Israeli Foreign Minister Gabi Ashkenazi decided to appoint the diplomat and businessman, Zvi Heifetz, as a special envoy to the Gulf States.
Heifetz would be in charge with establishing two embassies in Abu Dhabi and Manama and a consulate in Dubai, and for advancing relations with other Gulf countries.
Heifetz, 64, is considered one of the most prominent Israeli diplomats working abroad. Born in Siberia, Russia, he is an international lawyer, a businessman, and a close associate of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
He started his diplomatic career as Israeli ambassador to Britain (2004 – 2007), then assumed the post of ambassador to Austria and to several international organizations.
In 2015, Heifetz was appointed ambassador to Moscow. He is considered the architect of the strategic Israeli-Russian cooperation currently taking place in Syria. Since January 2017, he has been serving as Israel’s ambassador to the People’s Republic of China and Mongolia.
Heifetz was selected as the special envoy to the Gulf states, “for being a high-ranking diplomat and a successful economist with great experience in careful management and leadership,” according to Ashkenazi.
His first mission in both the UAE and Bahrain will be to establish the Israeli embassies in Abu Dhabi and Manama and the consulate in Dubai, and then expand relations to other Gulf countries.
Israeli Intelligence Minister Eli Cohen had announced that he expected an imminent peace agreement to be signed with three Gulf countries.
In an interview with Yediot Aharonot, he said that the rapprochement between Qatar and the Gulf states would increase the opportunities for normalization with Israel.