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Mossad chief likely to continue advancing Israel, UAE contacts

Israel has plenty of professional diplomats specialized in the Arab world, yet Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is relying on Mossad chief Yossi Cohen to advance ties with Gulf states.
A file picture taken at the Israeli foreign ministry on October 15, 2015, shows Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L) sitting next to Yossi Cohen, who is currently the head of Israel's National Security Council, and who was named as the 12th head of the Mossad intelligence agency by Netanyahu on December 7, 2015. Cohen will take over from outgoing Mossad head Tamir Pardo, who will be leaving his post after five years next January. AFP PHOTO / GALI TIBBON / AFP / GALI TIBBON        (Photo credit should read

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced a historic agreement with the United Arab Emirates in an Aug. 13 press conference. He said that delegations from the two countries will meet in the coming weeks to finalize the details. According to reports on Aug. 14, an Israeli official delegation will travel to the UAE as early as next week to meet with the country’s top leadership. A diplomatic source told Al-Monitor that the composition of the team has yet to be finalized. Channel 12 reported that a senior Israeli official would lead the negotiating team, while Ynet specified it would be Mossad chief Yossi Cohen.

Yesterday, at the televised press conference, Netanyahu acknowledged keeping the negotiations secret and not sharing the news even with his Blue and White partners until the last minute. Neither Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi nor Defense Minister Benny Gantz were privy to the contacts with the UAE. Reports that came out later last night revealed that Cohen and Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, had worked behind the scenes. Cohen had apparently traveled to the UAE on several occasions to advance the agreement, while Dermer was in constant contact with UAE Ambassador to Washington Yousef Al-Otaiba. This morning, Netanyahu tweeted, "I am very grateful to Israel’s ambassador to the United States, @AmbDermer, for helping bring the historic treaty with the UAE."

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