Ex-Mossad chief Yossi Cohen: Potential for Israel-UAE progress is ‘endless’

Speaking in Abu Dhabi at the “Beyond Business” conference attended by hundreds of business leaders from the two countries, the former spy chief said that relations "are just warming up."

Bank Hapoalim Chairman, Robert Krupik, Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Bank Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler (photo credit: SIVAN FEIJ)
Bank Hapoalim Chairman, Robert Krupik, Former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen, Bank Hapoalim CEO Dov Kotler
(photo credit: SIVAN FEIJ)

“The potential is endless” for future Israeli and UAE cooperation, former Mossad chief Yossi Cohen said on Sunday.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi at the “Beyond Business” conference hosting hundreds of business leaders from both countries, the former spy chief said the hundreds of millions of dollars in trade between the two countries to date are still only the beginning of the process.

He said that Israelis and Emiratis, “have the brains, the guts… by all aspects we are just warming up.”

Asked how hard it was to “make the dream happen” of Israeli-UAE normalization – given that Cohen received significant credit for paving the way to the eventual deal negotiated in Washington in August 2020 – he said “that is something I thought over many months after the treaty was signed on the grounds of the White House.”

The signing ceremony took place a few months after the initial announcement.

“It was not so difficult to get in touch with leaders of the UAE – with Mohammed Bin Zayed and his brothers. It was more to make sure that there is the trust needed between both the people and the nations. That was a thing that sort of had to be worked upon,” he said, noting that Israeli and UAE heads of state met secretly long before relations were made public.

 Former Mossad head Yossi Cohen is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST) Former Mossad head Yossi Cohen is seen speaking at the Jerusalem Post annual conference at the Museum of Tolerance in Jerusalem, on October 12, 2021. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Concerning Iran, Cohen said, “I believe that the threat the Iranians pose to this region is wider than the threat they pose to the State of Israel today.”

Cohen added that there were “imminent threats made by the Iranians as we speak, to the stability of nations in the region... Iran is still conducting dramatic terror activity in the region, widely, not only [itself, but also through] its proxies Hezbollah, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad… this is a threat we have countered together with other nations.”