Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of Maj. Gen. (res. ) Yaakov Amidror as his new national security adviser and head of the National Security Council yesterday.

Amidror, who is a former head of research in Military Intelligence and commander of the Israel Defense Forces military colleges, has been known to take hawkish positions.

Amidror will replace Uzi Arad, who recently resigned. The two will work together for two weeks, starting in a few days. It is unclear whether Netanyahu and Amidror have decided together on the latter's powers and limitations of his responsibilities vis-a-vis the prime minister's other advisers.

These include Ron Dermer, who coordinates contacts with the U.S. administration, Netanyahu's military secretary Yohanan Locker, who is responsible for liaising with the security forces, and Isaac Molho, in charge of negotiations with the Palestinians.

Netanyahu is reportedly seeking an additional political adviser, which may indicate that he wants Amidror's position to be defined more narrowly than Arad's was.

"Amidror is not afraid to speak his mind professionally," Netanyahu said in a statement yesterday. "He has a great deal of knowledge and experience in military areas, security and strategy."

Amidror told Haaretz yesterday he would do his utmost to serve Israel.

In the coming days, the Civil Service Commission and the legal adviser to the Prime Minister's Office will be checking to make sure there are no conflicts of interest regarding Amidror's appointment. After the Civil Service Commission approves the appointment, the cabinet will vote on it.

Amidror, who is religious, opposes the establishment of a Palestinian state. Dermer holds similar views.

Together with the more moderate Molho, Amidror and Dermer are expected to contribute significantly to the new diplomatic plan Netanyahu announced recently that he is formulating.

A group of intellectuals yesterday sent a letter to the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee protesting Amidror's appointment. The signatories include writers Joshua Sobol and Yoram Kaniuk and Israel Prize laureates David Tartakover, Shulamit Aloni, Yehuda Bauer, Sefi Rachlevsky and Tziona Shimshi.

The letter quotes statements by Amidror, including his remark that "a soldier who refuses to attack should be shot between the eyes," as "disqualifying him from any public position, certainly not a sensitive military-political post."

The letter also said Amidror's ideas "place him not only on the Fascist side of the 1930s, but appear to be a copy of the world of internal terror ... that led, in blood and fire, to the destruction of the Second Temple."