Israel’s cabinet approved the appointment on Monday of Ronen Bar as the next director of the Shin Bet security service. He will replace Nadav Argaman later this month, who has been in the position for the past five and a half years.
Bar, who is 55, has served in a number of senior positions at the Shin Bet. Argaman appointed him as his deputy in 2018 following a two-year stint as the head of a personnel-related division and before than as head of the Shin Bet’s operations division, a position to which he was appointed in 2011. Bar is thought to have had a good working relationship with the top brass at the Israel Defense Forces, which may have also contributed to Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s decision to nominate him as the director of the Shin Bet.
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Bar did his military service as a member of the elite Sayeret Matkal commando unit and joined the Shin Bet a few years after leaving the military. He has a bachelor’s degree from Tel Aviv University in political science and philosophy and a master’s degree from Harvard University in public administration. He is married and the father of three.
On Friday, the official committee on senior appointments decided that there were no grounds to recommend against Bar’s appointment as Shin Bet director. The committee found no impediments in his integrity or in the decision to appoint him.
In an interview with the committee, Bar was asked about an anonymous letter that the committee received recently that alleged that on two occasions, he had engaged in improper conduct during his time at the Shin Bet. The letter hinted that other individuals at the security agency were also involved in the alleged acts.
In response, Bar gave a detailed account aimed at dispelling the allegations.
“I have known him for many years,” Defense Minister Benny Gantz said on Monday. “I think he’s a fantastic commander, an operations man, an intelligence man. I think he’ll be able to take the Shin Bet from the excellent place to which Nadav [Argaman] brought it and continue to develop it for the benefit of all the State of Israel.”
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And in apparent reference to the anonymous allegations, Gantz added, “and I’m happy that this affair is going to be behind us.” Gantz was speaking at a conference sponsored by the Yedioth Ahronoth media group in cooperation with the Aliyah and Integration Ministry and the Jewish Agency.
Argaman, the current director, had been due to conclude his term at the helm of the Shin Bet in May, but it was extended by Prime Minister Bennett’s predecessor, Benjamin Netanyahu and then again by Bennett himself, who last month announced his decision to appoint Bar to the position. Bar’s name had not been made public until now.