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Oman, once thought to be next Abraham Accords signer, criminalizes relations with Israel



(JTA) — Just a few years ago, Oman was expected to be next in line after Morocco, Sudan, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates to sign onto the Abraham Accords normalization agreements with Israel.

On Friday, the country’s parliament voted to criminalize any relations or interactions with “the Zionist entity.”

While the exact details have not been made public, the new law seems to be broadly applied.   

“The brothers, Your Excellencies, looked at the development taking place, whether it was technical, cultural, economic or sports, and proposed additional amendments that include severing any economic, sports or cultural relations and prohibiting dealing in any way or means, whether it was a real meeting, an electronic meeting or something else,” said Yaqoub Al-Harithi, vice president of the Omani parliament, about the bill, according to Oman’s WAF news agency.

The sultanate at the southern tip of the Arabian Peninsula, where the Indian Ocean meets the Persian Gulf, was for a long time closer with Israel than other states in the region were. Oman never took part in any war with the Jewish state and established unofficial trade relations with Israel in the early 2000s. Omani Sultan Qaboos Bin Said welcomed three Israeli prime ministers to his country: Yitzhak Rabin in 1994, Shimon Peres in 1996 and Benjamin Netanyahu in 2018. Rabin’s visit was the first by an Israeli prime minister to a Gulf nation. 

Under Qaboos’ leadership, Oman carved a niche for itself as the Switzerland of the Middle East, able to deal simultaneously with countries such as Israel, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Qatar and Yemen, all while maintaining a sense of neutrality. The country has been an important middleman in everything from the Iranian nuclear talks to Yemeni Civil War negotiations. 

So what happened?

Sultan Qaboos, who was the longest reigning ruler of the Middle East’s oldest independent state, died in 2020 with no heirs. Rulership passed to his cousin Haitham Bin Tariq. 

Though Sultan Haitham, upon his inauguration, announced that he would follow in his predecessor’s peace-making footsteps, he has moved closer to Iran, which funds military activity throughout the region. 

While Saudi Arabia opened its airspace for Israeli flights earlier this year, Oman has held out on opening its own, blocking the most direct route for some flights from Israel to Asia. In doing so, Oman has received pressure from President Joe Biden’s administration to open its skies. 

However, the developments Al-Harithi is referring to in his statement could include the rise of Israel’s new right-wing government, which has already provoked anger well beyond the Middle East“What also potentially fuels this is a recent call by a number of Arab countries, including the UAE, to go to the United Nations and condemn Israel over the recent rise of [Itamar] Ben-Gvir,” Nir Boms, the director of the Program for Regional Cooperation at the Moshe Dayan Center of Tel Aviv University told the Jewish Telegraphic Agency. 

Protesting Israel “remains one of the few unifying factors in the Arab world,” Boms said. 

For more Islamist-leaning factions across the region, “The issues around Israel are coming to a point where they need to have a counter-reaction and come back to a boycott policy,” he added. 

Another reason may be fear of Iran, which is conducting military exercises off of Oman’s coast and is reeling from months of domestic protest.

“The last thing Muscat wants is for the Gulf to become a battlefield with attacks on western shipping, resulting in the closure of the Straits of Hormuz,” said Tom Gross, a British journalist and Middle East expert. “Oman, like Qatar, is trying to calm Iran. Their message is: ‘We are not the ones rushing to form relations with Israel so don’t take it out on us.’”

Despite the bill, Gross thinks that Omani relations with Israel will continue as they always have, under the table. 

“The Omani vote was primarily designed to appease the Iranian regime. There is a feeling in intelligence circles that the counter-revolutionary uprising in Iran has passed the point of no return and as a result the regime in Tehran may try to externalize its domestic problems,” Gross said. “Meanwhile, relations with Israel will likely continue, albeit more quietly.”

The post Oman, once thought to be next Abraham Accords signer, criminalizes relations with Israel appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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Phyllis Pollock died at home Sunday September 3, 2023 in Winnipeg, after a courageous lifetime battle with cancer.
Phyllis was a mother of four: Gary (Laura), daughter Randi, Steven (deceased in 2010) (Karen), and Robert. Phyllis also had two grandchildren: Lauren and Quinn.
Born in Fort Frances, Ontario on February 7, 1939, Phyllis was an only child to Ruby and Alex Lerman. After graduating high school, Phyllis moved to Winnipeg where she married and later divorced Danny Pollock, the father of her children. She moved to Beverly Hills in 1971, where she raised her children.
Phyllis had a busy social life and lucrative real estate career that spanned over 50 years, including new home sales with CoastCo. Phyllis was the original sales agent for three buildings in Santa Monica, oceanfront: Sea Colony I, Sea Colony II, and Sea Colony. She was known as the Sea Colony Queen. She worked side by side with her daughter Randi for about 25 years – handling over 600 transactions, including sales and leases within the three phases of Sea Colony alone.
Phyllis had more energy than most people half her age. She loved entertaining, working in the real estate field, meeting new and interesting people everyday no matter where she went, and thrived on making new lifelong friends. Phyllis eventually moved to the Sea Colony in Santa Monica where she lived for many years before moving to Palm Desert, then Winnipeg.
After battling breast cancer four times in approximately 20 years, she developed metastatic Stage 4 lung cancer. Her long-time domestic partner of 27 years, Joseph Wilder, K.C., was the love of her life. They were never far apart. They traveled the world and went on many adventures during their relationship. During her treatment, Phyllis would say how much she missed work and seeing her clients. Joey demonstrated amazing strength, love, care, and compassion for Phyllis as her condition progressed. He was her rock and was by her side 24/7, making sure she had the best possible care. Joey’s son David was always there to support Phyllis and to make her smile. Joey’s other children, Sheri, Kenny, Joshua and wife Davina, were also a part of her life. His kids would Facetime Phyllis and include her during any of their important functions. Phyllis loved Joey’s children as if they were her own.
Thank you to all of her friends and family who were there to support her during these difficult times. Phyllis is now, finally, pain free and in a better place. She was loved dearly and will be greatly missed. Interment took place in Los Angeles.

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Gwen Centre Creative Living Centre celebrates 35th anniversary



By BERNIE BELLAN Over 100 individuals gathered at the Gwen Secter Centre on Tuesday evening, July 18 – under the big top that serves as the venue for the summer series of outdoor concerts that is now in its third year at the centre.
The occasion was the celebration of the Gwen Secter Centre’s 35th anniversary. It was also an opportunity to honour the memory of Sophie Shinewald, who passed away at the age of 106 in 2019, but who, as recently as 2018, was still a regular attendee at the Gwen Secter Centre.
As Gwen Secter Executive Director Becky Chisick noted in her remarks to the audience, Sophie had been volunteering at the Gwen Secter Centre for years – answering the phone among other duties. Becky remarked that Sophie’s son, Ed Shinewald, had the phone number for the Gwen Secter Centre stored in his phone as “Mum’s work.”

Raquel Dancho (left), Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St.Paul, and Nikki Spigelman, President, Gwen Secter Centre

Remarks were also delivered by Raquel Dancho, Member of Parliament for Kildonan-St. Paul, who was the only representative of any level of government in attendance. (How times have changed: I remember well the steadfast support the former Member of the Legislature for St. John’s, Gord Mackintosh, showed the Gwen Secter Centre when it was perilously close to being closed down. And, of course, for years, the area in which the Gwen Secter Centre is situated was represented by the late Saul Cherniack.)
Sophie Shinewald’s granddaughter, Alix (who flew in from Chicago), represented the Shinewald family at the event. (Her brother, Benjamin, who lives in Ottawa, wasn’t able to attend, but he sent a pre-recorded audio message that was played for the audience.)
Musical entertainment for the evening was provided by a group of talented singers, led by Julia Kroft. Following the concert, attendees headed inside to partake of a sumptuous assortment of pastries, all prepared by the Gwen Secter culinary staff. (And, despite my asking whether I could take a doggy bag home, I was turned down.)

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Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station



This is a developing story.

(JTA) — Palestinian gunmen killed four people and wounded four in a terror attack at a gas station near the West Bank settlement of Eli, the Israeli army reported.

An Israeli civilian returning fire at the scene of the attack on Tuesday killed one of the attackers, who emerged from a vehicle, and two others fled.

Kan, Israel’s public broadcaster, said one of those wounded was in serious condition. The gunmen, while in the vehicle, shot at a guard post at the entry to the settlement, and then continued to the gas station which is also the site of a snack bar. A nearby yeshiva went into lockdown.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Gallant announced plans to convene a briefing with top security officials within hours of the attack. Kan reported that there were celebrations of the killing in major West Bank cities and in the Gaza Strip, initiated by terrorist groups Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. Hamas said the shooting attack Tuesday was triggered by the Jenin raid.

The shooting comes as tensions intensify in the West Bank. A day earlier, Israeli troops raiding the city of Jenin to arrest accused terrorists killed five people.

The Biden administration spoke out over the weekend against Israel’s plans to build 4,000 new housing units for Jewish settlers in the West Bank. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also finalized plans to  transfer West Bank building decisions to Bezalel Smotrich, the extremist who is the finance minister. Smotrich has said he wants to limit Palestinian building and expand settlement building.

Kan reported that the dead terrorist was a resident of a village, Urif, close to Huwara, the Palestinian town where terrorists killed two Israeli brothers driving through in February. Settlers retaliated by raiding the village and burning cars and buildings.

The post Palestinian gunmen kill 4 Israelis in West Bank gas station appeared first on Jewish Telegraphic Agency.

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