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Israel-UAE deal: Mossad spy chief visits Abu Dhabi for security talks

Discussion on 'cooperation in the fields of security' comes just days after the two states agreed to establish diplomatic ties
Israel's Mossad chief Yossi Cohen discussed 'cooperation in the fields of security' with the UAE's national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan (AFP/File photo)

The head of Israel's Mossad intelligence agency visited the United Arab Emirates for security talks on Tuesday, just days after the two countries agreed to establish diplomatic ties - a move that has been widely condemned by the Palestinians.

The official WAM news agency reported that Mossad chief Yossi Cohen discussed "cooperation in the fields of security" with the UAE's national security advisor, Sheikh Tahnoun bin Zayed al-Nahyan, in Abu Dhabi.

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"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, WAM reported.

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

While Emirati officials have hailed the agreement as a successful push to save the two-state solution by staving off annexation, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has repeatedly stressed that he remains "committed to annexing parts of the West Bank".

The Palestinians, who argue that ties with Israel are only possible once Israel ends its occupation of Palestine, have said normalisation will kill the two-state solution, strengthen "extremists" and undermine the "possibility of peace".

'Limitless possibilities' 

Thursday's deal marked the third time an Arab country has come forward to officially normalise ties with Israel, the first two being neighbouring Jordan and Egypt, both of which have taken part in US-mediated peace negotiations between Israel and Palestine.

The UAE is the first Gulf country to establish official relations with Israel, though many Arab states, including Saudi Arabia, Bahrain and Qatar, have quietly cultivated informal ties with the country. 

Trump's son-in-law and advisor Jared Kushner further reiterated on Monday that it would be in Riyadh's interest to formally establish ties with Israel.

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"It would be very good for Saudi business. It would very good for Saudi's defence, and, quite frankly, I think it would also help the Palestinian people," Kushner said.

Meanwhile, Netanyahu said on Monday that Israel was working on opening a corridor over Saudi Arabia for flights to the UAE.

While appearing on the Abu Dhabi-based Sky News Arabia channel, Netanyahu called the Israel-UAE deal a "great moment", adding "we are making history".

"This is a combination of limitless possibilities," he said.

Oman's former 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.