Photo: Motti Kimchi
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen
Photo: Motti Kimchi

Mossad chief edging out Foreign Ministry, diplomats say

Members of diplomatic corps lament growing irrelevance after Yossi Cohen announces that the intelligence agency has taken the lead as the arm of Israeli foreign policy, with what they believe is the support of Netanyahu

The head of the Mossad intelligence service has turned his agency into the foreign affairs arm of the government, say sources in the Foreign Ministry.



These concerns intensified after Yossi Cohen gave a speech at the Herzliya Conference this week, in which he divulged that under his leadership, Mossad has set up a security-policy wing tasked with promoting peace in the Middle East.


Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


"Mossad has a role in identifying opportunities for peace in order to maximize our influence in this area," Cohen told the conference on Monday.


For the diplomatic corps, the speech was an indication of the future of the ministry.


"Cohen's announcement is the final nail in the Foreign Ministry's coffin," said a source.


"Cohen made clear who is leading Israel's foreign policy in the region, and that is the Mossad and not the ministry."


The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)
The Foreign Ministry in Jerusalem (Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg)


Officials were also taken by surprise when Cohen announced the opening of a Foreign Ministry bureau in Oman, as a result of Mossad's efforts in the UAE. The speech in Herzliya was the first time anyone in the ministry had heard about the plan.


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu visited the UAE last year, accompanied by the Mossad chief.


Cohen also told the audience at the conference that Israeli-Russian relations were improving, thanks to Mossad's efforts.


Benajmin Netanyahu with Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said in Oman (Photo: AP)
Benajmin Netanyahu with Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said in Oman (Photo: AP)


Senior Foreign Ministry officials also expressed concern that Cohen and National Security Advisor Meir Ben-Shabat were intending to take over more of the ministry's areas of operation and that they are motivated by instructions from above, alluding to the Prime Minister's Office.


The senior sources said Mossad officials do not inform the ministry of their actions in the Middle East and beyond.


The challenge to the ministry's authorities compounds their difficulties after their budget was slashed by the Netanyahu government, restricting its abilities to carry out its job.


The officials gave an example of instructions sent to Israeli embassies and consulates telling envoys to refrain from consular visits to the approximately 400 Israelis being held in prisons around the world.


Ministry employees have been taking industrial action for the past week and a half, and are refusing to issue passports in both the New York and Los Angeles consulates while threatening to disrupt official state visits to Israel and foreign trips by Israeli officials.




פרסום ראשון: 07.05.19, 17:00
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