Israel’s Mossad chief heading to United Arab Emirates

The Mossad leader’s trip was planned before the announcement of diplomatic ties were made, pointing to the semi-secret contacts that have been going on for years.

By David Isaac, World Israel News

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen will travel to the United Arab Emirates for a previously scheduled trip that is not directly connected to the announcement of the opening of diplomatic ties, according to reports.

Last week, it was reported that Cohen would lead the first official delegation to the UAE to discuss details of the agreement, with a special emphasis on security ties. However, Israel National Security Adviser Meir Ben-Shabbat was eventually picked to fill the role.

Israel has carried out semi-secret ties with the UAE and other Arab countries for years. For instance, in February it was revealed that Cohen, together with head of the IDF’s Southern Command Gen. Herzi Halevi, visited Qatar for talks with senior officials.

Ties with Arab countries have strengthened as the threat from Iran to the region has grown.

The UAE is the first Arab country in decades to form official ties with the Jewish state. The last two were Egypt in 1979 and Jordan in 1994.

After a Thursday call with President Donald Trump congratulating him on the historic achievement, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made a televised statement to Israel announcing the agreement.

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“Today we usher in a new era of peace between Israel and the Arab world,” Netanyahu said. “There is a good chance we will soon see more Arab countries joining this expanding circle of peace.”

Israel and the UAE are expected to cooperate on a number of fronts.

In a joint statement, the leaders of Israel, the UAE and the U.S. said “Opening direct ties between two of the Middle East’s most dynamic societies and advanced economics will transform the region by spurring economic growth, enhancing technological innovation and forging closer people-to-people relations.”