Israel picks new head of Mossad spy agency
December 15, 2020 11:05 PM
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday picked the next director of the Mossad spy agency, identified only as "D", to replace Yossi Cohen, a high-profile player in recent normalisation deals with Arab states.
Netanyahu "decided to appoint Deputy Mossad Director 'D' as the next Mossad Director. 'D' is an accomplished Mossad veteran," a statement from the prime minister's office said.
Israel does not customarily disclose the names of top Mossad personnel, except the director, whose identity is generally known to the public.
But Cohen is widely seen as having a more prominent public profile than many past chiefs of the foreign intelligence service.
He was appointed to the post in 2015 after serving as Netanyahu's national security advisor and previously as Mossad deputy-chief.
Cohen travelled extensively in the Arab world, notably making key visits to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain amid Israel's US-brokered normalisation deals with both Gulf states.
He also reportedly accompanied Netanyahu on a visit to Saudi Arabia last month for secret talks with Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman -- a meeting Riyadh denied ever took place.
Cohen's Mossad has also been widely linked to last month's killing of top Iranian nuclear scientist Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.
Iran has blamed Israel for Fakhrizadeh's death but the Jewish state has not commented on the incident.
Cohen's replacement must be approved by a special committee responsible for top civil service appointments, the government statement said.
The Jerusalem Post reported that, if approved, the Mossad changeover would take place in June.