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Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu bade a formal farewell to outgoing Mossad chief Meir Dagan at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
Netanyahu devoted the final minutes of his press briefing to Dagan, who sat to his right. He noted that Dagan had served in the IDF for dozens of years and had been Terror Adviser for several prime ministers, including Netanyahu.
He said that Dagan had made "huge" contributions to Israel's security in all of his posts.
"I cannot tell of all the deeds you have done, the moves you put into action," Netanyahu said, addressing Dagan and the reporters at the same time. "But I can tell you all about a little conversation that we had in your office at the Mossad, about a year ago I believe."
"I sat in your office and I saw a photograph on the wall of a Jew with a beard, a religious Jew, kneeling before Nazi soldiers. This picture caught my eye and I asked you - who is this? You said, it's my grandfather. I asked you, what happened to him? And you told me, they murdered him. Then I said - 'Meir, I understand you. Now I understand you. I understand your deep commitment to ensure that no one will be able to once again fulfill the threat of extinction against the Jewish people. It is a personal and national obligation, and you acted in accordance with it."
Netanyahu summed up by thanking Dagan in the name of the State of Israel and the entire Jewish nation. "I wish to thank you in my name as Prime Minister of Israel, in the name of the members of the government of Israel, in the name of the citizens of Israel, in the name of the Jewish people, for all of the great and secret things that you did for us - for the security of Israel. Thank you very much, Meir."
Dagan will be replaced by Tamir Pardo, who served as deputy to Dagan, and is a long-time veteran of Mossad.