Israel’s Mossad spy chief visits UAE for security talks

Israel’s Mossad spy agency chief Yossi Cohen visited the UAE for security talks on Tuesday, only days after the countries agreed to establish diplomatic ties. (AFP/File Photo)
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Updated 18 August 2020

Israel’s Mossad spy chief visits UAE for security talks

  • The head of Israel's foreign intelligence service discussed "cooperation in the fields of security" with the UAE's national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan

DUBAI: Israel’s Mossad spy agency chief Yossi Cohen visited the UAE for security talks on Tuesday, only days after the countries agreed to establish diplomatic ties.

The head of Israel's foreign intelligence service discussed “cooperation in the fields of security” with the UAE's national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed Al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi, Emirates News Agency reported.

The US, Israel and UAE, along with several other Gulf states, have a common foe in Iran, which they accuse of seeking a nuclear bomb, fuelling regional instability and backing militant groups.

Cohen's trip marked the first visit to the UAE by an Israeli official after the announcement last week by US President Donald Trump that the two countries had agreed to normalise relations.

“The two sides discussed prospects for cooperation in the fields of security as well as exchanged points of view on regional developments and on issues of common interest” including efforts to contain the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the report said.

As part of the landmark deal, the Israel agreed to suspend the annexation of occupied West Bank territories, although Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the plan was not off the table in the long run.

Trump said leaders from the two countries would sign the historic agreement at the White House in the coming weeks.

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READ MORE: Kushner slams Palestinians, critics of UAE-Israel peace deal

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Netanyahu last week called Cohen to thank him for the Mossad's assistance “in developing the ties with the Gulf states over the years, which assisted in bringing the peace treaty to fruition,” the prime minister's office said.

Palestinians protested the deal which they saw as a betrayal by a major player in the Arab world, which has broadly held that normal ties with Israel are only possible once its dispute with the Palestinians is resolved.

Israel-UAE tensions had run high in 2010 after Mossad was widely blamed for the assassination in a Dubai hotel room of an operative for Hamas, Mahmoud Al-Mabhouh.

The deal is only the third such accord Israel has struck with an Arab country, and raises the prospect of similar deals with other Gulf states.

The Israeli prime minister appeared Monday on Sky News Arabia in his first ever interview with the Abu Dhabi-based network.

“This is a great moment ... we are making history,” he said, adding: “This is a combination of limitless possibilities.”

Meanwhile, Oman's minister responsible for foreign affairs spoke to his Israeli counterpart on Monday, the first publicised contact since the announcement of the UAE-Israel deal.

Yusuf bin Alawi and Israel's Gabi Ashkenazi spoke via telephone about “recent developments in the region,” Oman's foreign ministry said on Twitter.

Oman, along with Bahrain, had already expressed its support for the deal, and Bin Alawi told Ashkenazi that Muscat “clearly reaffirms its position calling for a comprehensive, just and lasting peace” in the Middle East.

Other Gulf countries have so far remained silent on the Israel-UAE agreement.


Egypt discovers 14 ancient tombs at Saqqara

Updated 26 min 29 sec ago

Egypt discovers 14 ancient tombs at Saqqara

  • The tombs were found two days ago during an archaeological dig
  • The vast Saqqara necropolis is part of the ancient capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site

CAIRO: Egypt’s antiquities ministry announced Sunday the discovery of 14 coffins in the Saqqara area that had lain buried for two and a half thousand years.
The tombs were found two days ago during an archaeological dig, and follow 13 wooden sarcophagus discovered in the same burial spot last week, the ministry said in a statement.
The vast Saqqara necropolis south of Cairo is part of the ancient capital of Memphis, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Saqqara is the site of the colossal rectangular-based step Pyramid of Djoser.
Photographs of the well-preserved wooden coffins show ornate and intricate paintings, with maroon and blue lines, as well as hieroglyphic pictorials.
Egypt has sought to promote archaeological discoveries across the country in a bid to revive tourism, which took a hit with restrictions on travel due to the coronavirus pandemic.