In the middle of May, Yuval Diskin will end six successful years at the head of the Shin Bet security service - years in which suicide bombings were thwarted alongside cooperation with the security apparatus of the Palestinian Authority; years of dealing with Hezbollah and other extensions of Iran; years in which Hamas gained control of Gaza; and years of struggle against Jewish terrorism. Not everything was successful, such as restraining the violence of the settlers, nor was everything justified, especially the action taken by the Shin Bet against elements in the Israeli public and media. But Diskin has the right to sum up with satisfaction his 35 years of security service, the pinnacle of which was heading the Shin Bet.
The timing for the end of Diskin's term of office was fixed more than a year ago, but nevertheless Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu wavered over the decision about whom to choose as the next Shin Bet head until almost the last moment - when only six weeks are left, including the Passover holiday and the time necessary for the Turkel Committee to hold its discussions [about the candidate] before Diskin's successor takes over the job. That is a regrettable fact, especially in view of the hitches that accompanied the canceled appointments of Major General Yoav Galant as chief of staff and of Eli Gavison as head of the Israel Prison Service.
It is also not clear why Netanyahu ignored the government, which is supposed to vote on his proposal for the appointment of the Shin Bet head, and chose instead to make the announcement in an appearance in front of the media at a Jewish National Fund event. One suspects that Netanyahu wanted to distract attention from other events to which his name was linked in recent days.
Netanyahu's candidate, Yoram Cohen, has been through the course of positions that prepares people in the Shin Bet for placement at the head of the service. In order to head the Shin Bet, unlike heading one of its branches or districts, or even being deputy head, this is a necessary condition, but it cannot be known in advance whether it is sufficient.
The uncertainty that the appointment gives rise to does not stem from Cohen's attributes but rather from Netanyahu's motives for choosing him. In this context, the opposition by elements in the settlements to the appointment of Diskin's current deputy is worrisome. The Turkel Committee would do well to hold a cross examination of Netanyahu over this matter, and should approve the appointment of Cohen only if it has laid to rest fears that there were vested interests and considerations behind the appointment.
Want to enjoy 'Zen' reading - with no ads and just the article? Subscribe todaySubscribe now