Mauritaniaâ€™s military coup leader has decided not to end diplomatic relations with Israel. "We are going to maintain [relations with Israel] because it is in the interest of both nations and for peace,â€ Col. Ely Ould Mohamed Vall told reporters at the presidential palace in his first press conference since the bloodless coup in August, The Associated Press reported. In 1999 Mauritania became one of three Arab countries to have diplomatic ties with Israel. The decision was unpopular among many Mauritanians as well as Arabs who either reject peace with Israel altogether or who believe that the Arab states must only make peace with Israel after a peace agreement with the Palestinians. In an interview published last week in the weekly magazine Jeune Afrique L'intelligent Faal said: â€œWe will not backtrack on this decision.â€ Faal said that â€œthe decision to recognize [Israel ] has been made. Since 1947, until the Oslo Accords, the confrontation policy has produced no results for the Palestinian cause. The Palestinians entered freely in a negotiation process and dialogue with Israel. Itâ€™s for this that like other Arab countries we took this direction.â€ Faal, who was formerly the national police chief and is now Chairman of the 17-member â€˜Military Council for Justice and Democracy,â€™ led the bloodless coup that overthrew a corrupt regime, but does not intend on forcefully keeping himself in power, he said. He indicated that elections will take place within two years and no members of the council the junta will be able to run.