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Syria's unwillingness to even consider returning the body of Israeli spy Eli Cohen marks the Syrian indifference to Israeli peace gestures, MKs said Monday as they marked the 42-year anniversary of Cohen's death.
Cohen worked as a Mossad agent in Damascus under the alias Kamal Amin Ta'abat from 1962 until his exposure and execution in 1965.
"We will continue to work for the return of his body, so that his loved ones can put him to rest here," said Prime Minister Ehud Olmert at the special Knesset session. "Cohen's life served - and continues to serve - as a symbol to many in this country."
Opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu and Knesset Speaker Dalia Itzik also called on the Syrian government to return Cohen's body.
"The Syrian government's refusal to even consider the return of Cohen's body reveals their true nature," said Netanyahu. "The State of Israel is still fighting for its existence, from threats both near and far. Our survival is based on heroes that are both known and unknown."
During Cohen's time in Damascus he befriended senior Syrian politicians and military leaders, gaining their confidence to the extent that he was once considered for the position of deputy defense minister.
Cohen relayed sensitive security information back to Israel, such as the location of tank traps and Syrian outposts on the Golan Heights. In one case, he persuaded Syrian officials to plant eucalyptus trees near their military installations on the Golan, thus allowing the IDF to locate them during their attack on the area during the Six Day War in 1967.
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