The deal, which has already been labelled a «historic diplomatic breakthrough», was announced on 13 August, with the UAE becoming the first Gulf state to establish full official diplomatic relations with Tel Aviv. And while Trump played a major role in its success, apparently he was not the only crucial player in this achievement.
Mossad played a key role in striking an agreement to normalise relations between Israel and the UAE, several news outlets reported, citing anonymous sources. The agency’s director, Yossi Cohen, made several trips to Abu Dhabi to coordinate efforts to bring the ties between the two states, which had reportedly long existed in secret, to an official level.
The outlets offer varying accounts of what it was that boosted the process. Israel’s Channel 12 and The New York Times claim that the covert cooperation between the two countries in battling the coronavirus pandemic had greatly advanced the talks. The reports claim that the Mossad boss made several trips to the UAE to arrange secret shipments of medical supplies.
At the same time, the Walla news outlet suggests, citing anonymous officials, that a breakthrough was only achieved two months ago due to Abu Dhabi’s concerns about Tel Aviv’s plan to extend its sovereignty to the parts of the West Bank that were outlined in Trump’s «deal of the century». Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s intentions reportedly angered the UAE, which at one point via its ambassador to the US offered a normalisation of relations in exchange for Israel halting its West Bank plans.
«We have been talking about this for over a year, but the issue of annexation created the atmosphere in which a deal became more attainable», a White House official reportedly said.
The US is later said to have relayed the offer to Tel Aviv, with Netanyahu agreeing to consider it, should Abu Dhabi’s intentions be serious. After that, the Mossad chief was busy negotiating the details of the deal with the UAE, the media said. Reports regarding Mossad’s involvement were vaguely confirmed by a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office saying that Netanyahu thanked Cohen «for the Mossad’s help over the years in developing ties with Gulf nations», which resulted in the deal being signed.
What Comes After the Deal?
The accord on establishing diplomatic ties with Israel is the third among the Arab countries and is the first that involves a Gulf state, but it appears that it may not be the last. Netanyahu, President Trump, and his adviser on the Middle East peace process Jared Kushner have all hinted that other regional countries might follow the UAE’s suit, possibly in the coming days. The New York Times claimed that Cohen did not just travel to Abu Dhabi, but has in fact been engaging in negotiations with Saudi Arabia and Qatar as well. The Times of Israel cited «senior Israeli officials» as claiming that Bahrain will be the next Gulf state to establish diplomatic ties with Israel.
The 13 August accord is also seen as a major political victory for both President Trump, who is trying to be re-elected in November but is trailing behind his opponent in the polls, and Netanyahu, whose new term has been marred by protests over an ongoing criminal prosecution against him over alleged corruption.