Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Monday named his national security adviser Yossi Cohen as the next head of the Mossad, replacing Tamir Pardo who will be leaving office at the end of January.
Cohen previously served as deputy chief of the Mossad between 2011 and 2013 when he took up the post of national security adviser.
Cohen, who is married with four children, grew up in a religious family and studied at the Or Etzion yeshiva high school. He joined the Mossad about 32 years ago and served in a variety of positions. Among other things, he served as head of the Mossad branch in Europe and head of the organization's operations.
In a news conference announcing Cohen’s appointment, Netanyahu said, “The men and women of the Mossad operate around the clock, throughout the year. They operate with exceptional daring and great imagination, at times at personal risk. They do this in order to ensure the security of Israel in the face of terrorist threats, the Iranian threat and additional threats.
“The Mossad is an operational agency. It is also an intelligence agency. It is also an agency that frequently paves the way to diplomatic relations, especially with countries with which we do not have official ties. In appointing the next head of the Mossad, I took into account these three components. The operational side: The Mossad will continue to build up our strength and foil threats to the security of the state and it will do so through actions and operations that are best left unspoken about. The intelligence side: The Mossad must adapt its capabilities to the age of cyber and advanced technologies. It must continue to be among the best intelligence agencies in the world.
“Whether on the operational or the intelligence side, the Mossad will continue to assist me, as Prime Minister, to develop diplomatic links around the world, including with Arab and Islamic states. These ties found expression last week in Paris where I met with many leaders. They very much appreciate the State of Israel for standing steadfast in the face of radical Islamic elements and for waging a determined struggle against terrorism. The head of the Mossad must have the ability to lead the organization with daring, wisdom and professionalism.
“The choice among the candidates to head the Mossad was difficult. On this score we are blessed with the problems of the wealthy. The three people whose candidacies I considered were excellent, talented, experienced and capable. I considered things with responsibility and due seriousness and in the end I decided that the next head of the Mossad will be Yossi Cohen,” said Netanyahu.
“Yossi has served as head of the National Security Council in recent years. He has a wealth of experience and achievements, as well as proven abilities in the various aspects of Mossad activity. He has leadership skills and a professional understanding, which are both necessary for one who is to lead the organization.”
A political source made clear on Monday night that Netanyahu "conducted an orderly, thorough and responsible process in selecting the new Mossad chief. The comments came in response to claims that pressure was exerted on Netanyahu at the last minute after the candidates who were not chosen for the job received the news.
The source added that "three rounds of interviews with the candidates were held. The Prime Minister consulted over the past 24 hours with Mossad head Tamir Pardo, as well as with former Mossad head Meir Dagan, and made the decision during the day. There is no truth to the reports that there was pressure on him at the last minute."