Mossad chief Yossi Cohen
Mossad chief Yossi CohenFlash90

The head of Israel's intelligence agency Mossad said Monday his country was renewing ties with Oman and had an "unprecedented opportunity" for a thaw with other Arab states.

"Just recently, renewal of formal relations with Oman was declared and the establishment of a representative office of the (Israeli) foreign ministry in that country," Yossi Cohen told a security conference in Herzliya, near Tel Aviv.

"That is only the visible tip of a much broader secret effort," he said, adding that in addition to Israel's historic treaties with Jordan and Egypt other Arab countries had discreetly joined "the states of peace, some of them in an unseen manner".

"We do not yet have with them official peace treaties but there is already a communality of interests, broad cooperation and open channels of
communication," he added.

Israel and Oman agreed to open trade representative offices in the 1990s, but in 2000 the Gulf sultanate closed them after the outbreak of the second intifada.

Cohen said the current climate presents "an unprecedented opportunity, perhaps the first in the history of the Middle East, to reach a regional understanding which could lead to a comprehensive peace agreement".

The Israeli foreign ministry declined to comment on his remarks.

In October, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu held surprise talks
with Oman's Sultan Qaboos in Muscat.

The recent moves have raised Palestinian Authority fears of a normalization of ties.

Last week Oman said it would open an embassy in the PA in support of the Palestinian people, in a first for a Gulf Arab state.

The announcement was greeted warily by senior PA official Hanan Ashrawi, who warned Oman against using the new embassy as a step towards establishing formal relations with Israel.

"If this has a political price attached then certainly there will be ramifications," she said.