chief says Israel has ‘one-time-only’ opportunity for regional peace
says Mossad task force believes shared opposition to blocking Iran and IS,
combined with Israel’s ties to Russia and US, are creating possibility for
Middle East amity
By: Judah Ari Gross
Outlet: Times of
Date: July 1st,
The head of the Mossad intelligence service said on Monday
that a potentially one-time-only window of opportunity had opened for the Jewish
state to achieve a regional peace agreement in light of shared opposition to
Iran and Islamist terror groups, as well as improved ties with the United States
“We created a task force that is focused on the field of
foreign policy and strategy that is meant to advance [the cause of peace] with
the various tools at the disposal of the Mossad and outside it,” said Yossi
“The Mossad has identified at this time a rare opportunity
— perhaps the first in the history of the Middle East — to reach a regional
understanding that would lead to an inclusive regional peace agreement,” he
According to the Mossad chief, the opportunity comes from a
shared interest with countries throughout the region in fighting Iran and
Islamic terror groups, like the Islamic State, and from the close relations with
the White House and the Kremlin.
“This creates a window of opportunity that is perhaps
one-time-only,” he said.
Cohen said that although Israel only has formal peace
treaties with two countries in the region — Jordan and Egypt — it has a
number of unofficial “understandings” with other “pragmatic” nations in
the Middle East, which “recognize the State of Israel as an established fact
and cooperated with us with mutual respect and shared interests.”
The Mossad head did not identify specific countries, but
Israel has in the past been said to be improving ties with a number of Gulf
states, including Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.
Cohen said those countries are looking for “fair and
realistic” solutions to regional conflicts, in an apparent reference to the
current contentious US-led efforts to negotiate an agreement between the
Israelis and Palestinians.
Iran ‘starting a fire’ in the Middle East
In his speech, Cohen accused
the Iranian government of being behind a number of strikes on oil
facilities and ships in the Persian Gulf in recent months, as well as an attack
on the Bahraini embassy in Baghdad last week.
“I say to you, with certainty, based on the best sources
of both Israeli and Western espionage, that Iran is behind these attacks. They
were approved by Iranian leadership and carried out, in large part, by the
Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps and its proxies,” he said.
Iran has been accused by the United States and other
countries in the Gulf of being directly or indirectly responsible for the
attacks on the oil facilities, including most
recently on two tankers in the waters off the coast of the United Arab
Emirates last month. But Monday was the first time that the Mossad publicly
accused Iran of being responsible for these attacks and for the violent
protests around the embassy in Iraq, which were reportedly carried out by
supporters of Iran-backed militias in the country in response to Bahrain hosting
the United States-led economic peace conference last week.
“Despite being different types of targets in different
locations, they are part of the same campaign being led by the same figure,”
He accused Tehran of trying “to start a fire” in in the
The Mossad chief warned that Iran was extending the range
of its activities and had established a 300-person cell inside Africa for that
purpose. Cohen also noted that Iran has been accused of conducting and planning
a number of terrorist activities inside Europe in recent years.
In an apparent reference to reported Israeli strikes on
Iranian targets in Syria early Monday, the head of the Mossad said Israel was
not interested in a conflict with its neighbor.
can’t agree to Syria becoming a staging ground for Iranian forces or forces
operated by it against us. We can’t agree to Syria becoming a logistics base
for transferring weapons to Hezbollah and Lebanon. Israel has taken action in
the past four years, overtly and covertly, about which only a small amount has
been published, in order to block the entrenchment and the production lines of
precision-guided munitions,” he said.
“Thanks to this effort, I believe the Iranians will reach
the conclusion that it’s not worth it for them.”
According to Cohen, Iran and its proxy Hezbollah in Syria
have started transferring their forces farther from the border with Israel in a
bid to avoid further strikes by the Israeli military.
“Iran and Hezbollah are asking to move their bases to
northern Syria, an area that they mistakenly believe will be difficult for us to
reach. In addition, they are establishing bases and precision missile factories
in Iraq, to the east, and Lebanon, to the west,” he said.
Israel has for years warned that Iran and Hezbollah were
attempting to establish factories in Lebanon to produce precision-guided
missiles, which would present a far greater threat to Israel than the less
advanced projectiles that currently fill the terror group’s arsenals.