|Date of birth||20 June 1937|
|Place of birth||Baghdad, Kingdom of Iraq|
|Year of aliyah||1950|
|Knessets||11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17|
|Faction represented in Knesset|
|1999–2000||Minister of Industry and Trade|
Born in Baghdad, Iraq, Cohen was 13 years old when he immigrated to Israel through Iran. He grew up in the kibbutz Gan Shmuel, where he absorbed Socialist and Zionist ideologies. During his military service he rose to the rank of Colonel (Aluf Mishne). After the military he obtained a B.A. in philosophy and Economics at Tel Aviv University.
Since 1992, he has been a member of Meretz, a dovish left wing party which resulted from the merger of Mapam, Ratz and Shinui. He was Minister of Industry and Trade in Ehud Barak's government. He headed several Knesset committees, including the Security and Foreign Affairs committee.
Cohen is most identified with "Law of Public Housing", which allowed residents of houses supplied by the state to assume ownership on the house. He also managed to pass a law regulating minimum wages.
After Meretz merged with Yossi Beilin's Shachar movement and renamed itself Yachad in 2004, Cohen ran for the chairmainship of the new party, but lost to Beilin. Supporters of Cohen blamed his defeat on anti-Mizrahi racism within the party and pointed out that he was the only non-Ashkenazi to reach a senior position within it.
On 1 November 2008, following Beilin's resignation, he announced his intention to retire from political life and not to seek a spot on the party's list ahead of the upcoming general elections. He said "I want to start chapter three of my life, to do things for my soul: writing, lecturing, taking part in social and public initiatives that interest me".