Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday that David Barnea will be the next head of Israel's Mossad espionage agency.
Barnea's appointment was cleared for publication Monday following consultations among the prime minister, Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit and the outgoing Mossad chief, Yossi Cohen.
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On December 15, Netanyahu gave notice of Barnea's appointment to replace Cohen, who will be stepping down on June 1 after five and a half years at the helm of the Mossad.
Mendelblit said Monday that there was no legal obstacle to the appointment, after saying at the end of last year that a permanent appointment could not be made by a caretaker government. When it became clear that a government is likely not about to be formed in the immediate future, Mendelblit held talks on the matter and finally said that the appointment would be legal.
Barnea, who is in his 50s, lives in the Sharon region north of Tel Aviv. He did his military service in the elite Sayeret Matkal special operations force. About 30 years ago, he enlisted in the Mossad, where he became a case officer. Following a training period, he joined Tzomet, the spy agency's division responsible for locating, recruiting and handling agents and where he spent his entire career other than a two-year stint as deputy head of Keshet, the division responsible for monitoring and infiltrating targets. He was appointed deputy head of the entire Mossad in 2018.
In Tzomet, he took the accepted path and recruited agents relating to matters of the highest priority to the Mossad: Iran and Hezbollah, the Lebanon-based Shi'ite movement. Former senior figures in the espionage agency have called him honest and fair.