Mossad chief optimistic as he meets with Arab leaders over Israeli sovereignty

Israel’s top spy Yossi Cohen will hold talks with Arab leaders to measure their responses to annexation.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is sending the head of Israel’s Mossad intelligence agency to speak with Arab leaders in the region.

Mossad head Yossi Cohen is expected to visit several Arab capitals including Egypt and Jordan where he will check the expected reactions to Israel’s planned application of sovereignty on Israeli communities in Judea and Samaria, scheduled to begin July 1.

Cohen enjoys good relations in the international arena, especially in the Middle East, and is apparently making optimistic assessments of Arab reaction in closed discussions despite the negative comments Arab leaders have made publicly, Kan News reported.

In public, Arab states have come out strongly against annexation. UAE’s ambassador to the United States wrote an op-ed in an Israeli newspaper last week and posted a video online telling Israelis that annexation right now will damage relations with the Arab world.

“That article stuck a sharp pin in the balloon sent up by the Prime Minister’s Office, which indicated that the Gulf states intended to let a unilateral annexation by Israel pass without comment,” said Haaretz columnist Amos Harel.

Despite previous statements from American officials that annexation was an Israeli decision that they could accept, reports say the Trump administration may want to limit or delay the annexation plan.

“The fate and the size of the annexation will in the end be determined by Washington and Jerusalem, in accordance with the pressure that will be exerted by the White House, after the internal struggle within the administration’s peace team is sorted out,” Harel wrote.

Netanyahu has apparently met twice in recent days with U.S. Ambassador to Israel David Friedman where annexation was discussed with Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi in an attempt to reach an agreement with his coalition partner, Gantz’s Blue and White party, on the issue.

Netanyahu wants to annex all settlements in Judea and Samaria but is facing opposition from Gantz and Ashkenazi, who are reportedly in favor of a more limited annexation focusing on key settlement blocs.

Although Netanyahu has picked July 1 as the date to start applying sovereignty to settlements, other members of his Likud Party have said that date is not set in stone and may change.