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Mossad head could join Mnuchin fund, possibly violating waiting period – report

Yossi Cohen, whose term ends June 1, reportedly had talks with ex-US treasury chief weeks ago, even though his current work and planned investment fund both deal with Gulf states

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen attends US Independence Day celebrations at the residence of US ambassador David Friedman in Herzliya, July 3, 2017. (Heidi Levine, Pool via AP/File)
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen attends US Independence Day celebrations at the residence of US ambassador David Friedman in Herzliya, July 3, 2017. (Heidi Levine, Pool via AP/File)

Outgoing Mossad chief Yossi Cohen has reportedly been holding negotiations with former US treasury secretary Steven Mnuchin over joining an investment fund being formed by Mnuchin that will work with Gulf states.

The talks were conducted weeks ago, while Cohen was managing Israel’s intelligence relations with countries such as Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, the Walla news site reported Wednesday, citing two unnamed officials with knowledge of the matter.

That potentially violates a cooling-off period that prevents Cohen from dealing with matters related to his work at the Mossad for several years.

Cohen, who is a friend of Mnuchin, will end his term on June 1 and will be succeeded by current Mossad deputy chief David Barnea.

Walla cited a source who spoke to Cohen as saying he hadn’t yet decided whether to join the investment fund.

US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman, center, speaks as Avi Berkowitz, Assistant to the President and Special Representative for International Negotiations, left, and Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin, right, listen during an event in the Oval Office of the White House on September 11, 2020, in Washington. (AP Photo/Andrew Harnik)

Former US ambassador to Israel David Friedman — who, like Mnuchin, served under former US president Donald Trump — is also expected to be part of the fund.

Mnuchin and Friedman both worked closely with Cohen as well as with Gulf states.

Cohen himself was in charge of much of Israel’s shadow diplomacy in Arab states, some of which still don’t have official ties with the Jewish state. That has included managing matters related to Gaza with Qatar, including during the latest round of violence.

Cohen has been viewed as Netanyahu’s personal envoy for those special diplomatic efforts, and some have even described him as the premier’s preferred successor.

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