Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced today that current Deputy Mossad Chief David Barnea will be the next head of the Israeli espionage agency. Barnea will replace incumbent Mossad head Yossi Cohen, who steps down on June 1. Cohen has served as chief of the Mossad for more than five years.
"Together with Mossad Chief Yossi Cohen, I awarded today the prime minister’s prize for Mossad operations, and announced the nomination of David (Dedi) Barnea as next head of the Mossad. I have told Mossad agents – any new operation of yours is more daring, more imaginative and bolder than the one before. James Bond is small change next to you. We are going to reopen cinema theaters in a few days [after corona restrictions]. There is not one action movie that could even be compared with what the Mossad is up to. Our number one mission now is preventing Iran from arming itself with nuclear weapon," tweeted Netanyahu.
Speaking at the same ceremony, Cohen congratulated his future replacement, adding that "war is the daily routine of the Mossad. The secret war. We are carrying out constantly and everywhere numerous operations, which make up into powerful fists. These operations provide Israel with valuable intelligence, thwart unconventional weapons, halt terror and espionage, and open up new routes of peace and regional cooperation."
Reportedly, the nomination was cleared for publication following consultations between Netanyahu, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and outgoing Cohen. Mandelblit said today there was no legal obstacle to the appointment. Last December, Netanyahu put forth Barnea as his nominee to replace Cohen. Mandelblit then said that a permanent appointment could not be made by a caretaker government and that the nomination should be frozen until a new government is formed. But when it became clear that a government is likely not about to be formed in the immediate future, and with the necessity of having a new permanent Mossad chief in place, Mandelblit proceeded with some more consultations, finally saying that the appointment would be legal.
Barnea, 56 and the father of four, lives in the Sharon region north of Tel Aviv. He did his military service in an Israel Defense Forces elite commando unit. About 30 years ago, Barnea enlisted in the Mossad, where he became a case officer. He was later appointed the agency's division responsible for locating, recruiting and handling agents, where he spent most of his career. He was appointed deputy head of the Mossad in 2018.
Defense Ministry Benny Gantz tweeted after the announcement by Netanyahu, "Good luck for Dedi [Barnea], the next head of Mossad, who receives one of the best espionage agencies in the world. It’s also an opportunity to thank Yossi Cohen, who built up new capabilities, leading bold and significant operations. The security system will continue working very closely with the Mossad, and will assist any mission required in the important campaign of fortifying Israel’s security."