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Prime Minister Ariel Sharon Tuesday announced the appointment of Major General (res.) Meir Dagan as head of the Mossad to replace outgoing chief Ephraim Halevy who will serve as the new national securtity adviser.

Dagan's appointment still requires the authorization of a committee headed by retired Judge Gabriel Bach, and also includes state services commissioner Shmuel Hollander and Major General (res.) Shmuel Arad.

Meir Dagan has enjoyed a close relationship with Sharon for 30 years. In the early 1970s, when Sharon headed the IDF Southern Command, he assigned Dagan to lead a special anti-terrorist unit in the Gaza Strip. In February 2001, Dagan coordinated Sharon's election day staff.

Among his military assignments, Dagan commanded Israeli troops in southern Lebanon and helped to establish the South Lebanese Army (SLA). He also helped to form the special undercover units Rimon, Shimshon and Duvdevan.

During the first intifada that erupted in the late 1980s, Dagan served as a special assistant to the IDF chief of staff. In 1993, he was promoted to major general and went to the general staff as deputy operations chief. He left the army in 1995 and joined the Shin Bet security services a year later as deputy director to Ami Ayalon.

Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Dagan to head the Unit for the War against Terror in 1997 and he continued to serve under Netanyahu's successor, Ehud Barak. Dagan resigned, however, after Barak formed a new security-diplomatic team in his office, headed by retired Maj. Gen. Danny Yatom.