Report: Israeli Delegation to Visit Abu Dhabi Next Week

Head of Mossad Yossi Cohen. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

A senior Israeli official will head an Israeli delegation that will leave for Abu Dhabi early next week, Channel 12 reported Friday, a day after the United Arab Emirates agreed to a deal with Israel to normalize bilateral diplomatic relations.

The UAE becomes the third Arab country to establish full relations with Israel, after Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

The delegation is expected to meet with top officials of the UAE, the report said. During the meeting, the normalization agreement will probably be signed and a meeting between the leaders of the countries will be arranged in a few weeks.

About a year ago, Mossad chief Yossi Cohen emphasized Israel’s opportunities in the Gulf region: “The Mossad is now locating a rare opportunity, perhaps the first in the history of the Middle East – to reach a regional understanding that will lead to a comprehensive peace agreement.”

On Thursday, former senior members of the Defense Establishment called to congratulate the head of the Mossad on his part in reaching the historic agreement. “I did not think I would feel that way, a bit like a teenager,” Cohen said. “Last night was a very exciting evening for the Mossad. Our job at the Mossad is not only to prevent war from escalating or thwarting terrorist attacks against Israel, but to identify various opportunities for peace throughout the region and to promote them.

“This is what we have done, and it is a great sense of satisfaction for all the employees of the institution who have engaged in this important work and contributed to the advancement of the agreement. I am proud of them.”

At the Herzliya International Conference last year, Cohen spoke and hinted at the apparent direction: “The Mossad is designed to protect Israel from the dangers of war, but in my eyes it has an equally important role. To identify opportunities for peace. And more importantly, to initiate moves that can promote peace.

“The policy is strategic, and is intended to promote it in all the various means available to the Mossad. The Mossad is now finding a rare opportunity, perhaps the first in the history of the Middle East, to reach a regional understanding that will lead to a comprehensive peace agreement.”

The deal was boosted by cooperation between the two countries in the struggle against the coronavirus pandemic, The New York Times reported.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen made several clandestine trips to the UAE in the past year, and the Mossad arranged for secret shipments of medical equipment from Israel to the UAE after the onset of the pandemic, the Times reported.

Cohen has met often with representatives of the UAE, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Jordan and Egypt in a years-long effort to build relations with the Gulf States, the Times said.

Channel 12 added that establishing relations with Arab states is considered the responsibility of the Mossad.

A statement from the Prime Minister’s Office Thursday night said Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu had called Cohen and “thanked him for the Mossad’s help over the years in developing ties with Gulf nations, which helped the peace deal come to fruition.”

After Netanyahu officially announced a historic normalization agreement between Israel and the UAE – an agreement reached after lengthy talks between the two countries mediated by the Trump administration in the United States – the president’s son-in-law and close adviser Jared Kushner revealed that “there is a good chance that in the coming days another country will sign an agreement with Israel.”

United Arab Emirate’s minister of state for foreign affairs, Anwar Gargash, on Friday described as “encouraging” the reactions from main global capitals to its agreement with Israel.

The deal has met with mixed global reactions.