Mossad Director Joseph (Yossi) Cohen said that Israel and U.S.-aligned Arab countries have what might be a unique chance to forge a regional peace deal given their shared worries about Iran. The espionage chief went on to reveal that his agency has formed a task force designed to spot peacemaking opportunities in a region where only two Arab states, Egypt and Jordan, have full ties to Israel.
While speaking at the annual Herzliya security conference, Cohen said “the Mossad today espies a rare opportunity, perhaps for the first time in Middle East history, to arrive at a regional understanding that would lead to a comprehensive peace accord.” He cited unifying factors such as Iran’s nuclear program, assistance for guerrillas in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and elsewhere, as well as its alleged responsibility for a recent spate of sabotage strikes on oil tankers in the Gulf.
Cohen specified that Israel’s warming of relations with Oman, which Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited last October, followed “a lengthy covert effort by the Mossad” to seek out closer ties. He then pointed to what he termed as “an expanding group of responsible, serious countries” – in the region with which Israel lacks formal ties – but nevertheless maintain “open channels of communication” and cooperation in a variety of ways.
Directly addressing the Iranian violation of limitations of the 2015 deal capping its nuclear projects, Cohen reaffirmed Israel’s pledge, saying “the Mossad or the State of Israel did not sign the nuclear deal (and) will do everything to ensure that Iran will never have nuclear weaponry.”