The head of Israel’s spy agency Mossad said Saudi Arabia could soon normalize its ties with Israel.
In an interview with Israeli Channel 12 aired late Wednesday, Yossi Cohen refused to either confirm or deny that he met Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying only with a smile: “I prefer not to comment.”
Cohen, who is close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, is reported to be Israel’s secret envoy to the Gulf states.
He was one of the few Israeli officials who accompanied Netanyahu to the signing ceremony of recent agreements to normalize relations with the UAE and Bahrain on Tuesday at the White House.
Cohen said these deals formalized relations after “many years of contacts that took place in a very precise manner.”
He asserted that concerns in the region on Iran’s aspirations played a major role in the Gulf states’ break from decades of Arab countries’ non-recognition of Israel so long as Tel Aviv’s dispute with the Palestinians remained unresolved.
The agreements Israel signed separately with Bahrain and the UAE were a “strategic change in the war against Iran,” he added.
Cohen added that he believed these countries decided to set aside the Palestinian issue in favor of open relations with Israel because “every country needs to choose its direct interests versus long-term interests, and here I believe that both Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates have chosen their long-term interests.”
As to whether Saudi Arabia would follow suit and normalize its relations with Israel in the near future, Cohen said: “I think this can happen.”
On Sept. 15, the UAE and Bahrain signed US-sponsored agreements to establish diplomatic relations with Israel.
The Palestinian Authority and resistance factions have denounced the agreements, saying they did not serve the Palestinian cause and ignore the rights of Palestinians.
*Writing by Mahmoud Barakat
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