Mossad Chief Denies Political Links to Likud, Netanyahu

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Mossad chief Yossi Cohen in 2019
Mossad chief Yossi Cohen in 2019Credit: Moti Milrod

Mossad director Yossi Cohen has denied having any political ties to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or his Likud party.

“There is not and never was any political connection between the Mossad director and the prime minister or the Likud party,” Cohen’s office said in a statement on Sunday. “All of his activity has been carried out solely for the sake of protecting the security of the people of Israel and the state of Israel, independent of the identity of the person heading the government.”

The statement was issued in response to a letter sent by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which had asked him to promise that Netanyahu isn’t planning any political job for him after his term at the Mossad ends in June.

The letter stemmed from the organization’s interpretation of an interview Netanyahu gave to Channel 13 News on Saturday night, in which he said he would know how to “utilize Cohen’s talents” in managing relations with the United States if he remains prime minister after this month’s election.

In its letter to Cohen, which was also sent to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, the movement argued that Netanyahu effectively said he planned to give Cohen some kind of governmental position in his next government. “If there’s any grain of truth to the prime minister’s statements, this constitutes extremely grave conduct that casts a heavy shadow over your term of office,” it added.

Cohen’s name has been linked to politics many times. He has an unusually high public profile for a Mossad director, regularly issues statements to the press and even attends diplomatic events such as the ceremony marking the U.S. Embassy’s move to Jerusalem. 'Walla' journalist Tal Shalev once reported that in private conversations, Netanyahu had mentioned Cohen and former Ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer as potential candidates to succeed him as prime minister.

Under a law mandating cooling-off periods for retired civil servants, Cohen could become a minister only three years after finishing his term as Mossad chief. But he could be appointed to some other post of a political nature, like ambassador to the United States, immediately after his term ends.

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