Netanyahu picks new Mossad director to replace Yossi Cohen


Jerusalem (AFP) – 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 normalization 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 adviser and previously as Mossad deputy-chief.

Cohen traveled extensively in the Arab world, notably making key visits to the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain amid Israel’s US-brokered normalization deals with both Gulf states.

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 country 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.

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