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Mossad chief, Israel’s secret diplomat to the Mideast

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu dedicates much effort to building ties with Sunni states and has sent Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to various locales on secret missions.
Israel Prime Minister Office Israeli Prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu and head of Mosad Yossi Cohen meet with Sultan Qaboos bin Said and their delegations in this undated handout provided by the Israel Prime Minister Office, in Oman. Israel GPO/Handout via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. - RC1203496B60

A senior Israeli defense official recently likened the decision by several Muslim states to “come out” of their closeted clandestine ties with Israel to the result of a slow cooking process. It was probably the longest such process in history. At the end of October, an impressive stew emerged from the oven with the historic, public and highly publicized Oct. 26 visit by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara to Muscat, capital of Oman. Sultan Qaboos bin Said hosted the Netanyahu retinue in a manner fit for kings, and in contrast to the instinctive reflex displayed on such occasions, the Omanis reported the visit widely and even boasted of it rather than playing it down.

“It’s been more than a week since that public visit,” the Israeli defense official told Al-Monitor, “and nothing [untoward] has happened. Except for Iran, not a single Arab or Muslim state condemned Oman or attacked it for hosting [Netanyahu]. Behind the scenes, the exact opposite has happened. This will project onto other states, which will understand that normalizing ties with Israel offers many more advantages than drawbacks these days.”

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