Israel cabinet approves new Shin Bet spy chief

The Israeli government formally approved the appointment of Yoram Cohen as the new head of the Shin Bet internal security service.

Jerusalem: The Israeli government on Sunday
formally approved the appointment of Yoram Cohen as the new
head of the Shin Bet internal security service, Prime Minister
Benjamin Netanyahu`s office said.

The cabinet voted unanimously to confirm Cohen, an
Arabist with 30 years of experience at Shin Bet, a statement

"Yoram Cohen will be able to lead the Shin Bet in
Israel`s war against terror; in the intelligence and
technological war," it quoted Netanyahu as telling ministers.
Cohen, 51, will replace Yuval Diskin, whose six-year
term ends on May 15.

The new chief joined Shin Bet as a field agent in
1982, and worked largely in the occupied West Bank. He also
spent a year in Lebanon.

He ran the agency`s counter-terror unit in the West
Bank, and spent four years as head of anti-terror operations
in the Arab world and Iran. He also ran the Shin Bet`s
Jerusalem section.

From 2005 to 2008, he was deputy director of the
agency, until going to the United States to carry out research
on Islamist movements, particularly the militant group Hamas,
which controls the Gaza Strip.

He is considered one of those who shaped Israel`s
policy of "targeted killings" during the second Palestinian
uprising, which broke out in 2000.

Cohen is the first religiously observant Jew to be
appointed to the top job at Shin Bet, and some have asked
whether this would affect his ability to deal even-handedly
with extremist settlers, most of whom are very religious.

Shin Bet officials quoted recently by Yediot Aharonot
newspaper said that "would not detract from his professional
activity against Jewish terror," although it was likely to
mean he comes in for sharp criticism from the settler lobby
and its backers.


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