Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced the appointment of Tamir Pardo as the next Mossad chief yesterday.
Pardo is a veteran operations man who served in the Mossad for more than 25 years. He will be returning to the organization after having left over a year ago due to conflicts with its current head, Meir Dagan, who has held the position for the last eight years.
Pardo's appointment is still subject to approval by the Turkel Committee, which vets the appointments of all top civil servants.
Pardo had vied for the post with the head of the Shin Bet security service, Yuval Diskin, who is to end his term at the Shin Bet in May, and the outgoing head of Military Intelligence, Maj. Gen. Amos Yadlin. Netanyahu consulted Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Intelligence and Atomic Energy Minister Dan Meridor and other officials about the choice, but remained undecided for several weeks. Last week, however, after being asked about the appointment by the media, he said he would decide in a few days.
Pardo is highly regarded as an intelligence officer and has taken part in dozens of secret operations abroad. The Prime Minister's Bureau said yesterday in a statement that Pardo has decades of experience in the Mossad and is "the right person to move the organization forward in the coming years."
Netanyahu also expressed his appreciation to outgoing Mossad head Meir Dagan for his contribution to Israel's security.
Barak also said yesterday that Pardo's wealth of experience made him the right man for the job.
Media reports over the past few days had said Barak objected to Pardo's appointment, because his name had surfaced in connection with the so-called Galant Document, a forged document aimed at influencing the appointment of the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff. The document reportedly came to Pardo in a sealed envelope before eventually making its way to Channel 2 journalist Amnon Abramovich, who broke the story.
Pardo, 57, joined the Mossad in 1980 and took part in a wide range of operations. From 1988 onward, he occupied command roles in various departments, including the one responsible, according to foreign reports, for infiltrating targets to plant listening devices and cameras. In 1998 he was appointed head of operations, a post he held for four years.
Nevertheless, most of Pardo's experience in the Mossad was in the technological sphere rather than in human intelligence, which involves finding, recruiting and operating agents and is one of the organization's central functions.
When Dagan became Mossad chief in 2002, Pardo was appointed his deputy. He remained in this post until 2006, when he was seconded for a year to the IDF General Staff for a role in special operations.
Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert extended Dagan's term twice. At one point, Pardo sought to leave the Mossad, but Olmert persuaded him to stay by saying that if he remained as Dagan's deputy, the premier would view him as the leading candidate to succeed Dagan as Mossad chief. Pardo thus returned to the Mossad and served as Dagan's deputy until 2009.
When Netanyahu once again extended Dagan's term, he refused to give Pardo the same pledge Olmert had. Pardo thus announced he was leaving to go into business. But after deciding not to extend Dagan's term again, Netanyahu asked Pardo, who had been serving as a consultant to businessman Noam Lanir's online gambling enterprise, to return to the Mossad.
Pardo, who lives in central Israel, has degrees in mathematics, physics, political science and history.
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