Brig. Gen (res.) Kamil Abu-Rukun has been appointed the new coordinator of government activities in the territories, and will take over from Maj. Gen. Yoav Mordechai next spring. Abu-Rukin, 58, from the Druze village of Isfiya near Haifa, has previously held the posts of Israeli governor of the West Bank town of Tul Karm, commander of the Israeli army’s coordination and liaison unit with Gaza, deputy coordinator of government activities in the territories and head of the Israeli Civil Administration in the West Bank.
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In 2010, Abu-Rukun was appointed director of the Defense Ministry’s land border crossing authority, which is responsible for civilian administration of the two border crossings between Israel and the Gaza Strip and as well as those in the West Bank.
The Office of the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, or COGAT, as it is commonly known, is responsible for carrying out the government’s civilian policy in the territories as well as administering security cooperation with the Palestinian Authority. Mordechai, who has been in the position for over four years, will step down after Israeli Independence Day in April.
Haaretz recently reported that Mordechai is calling for a reconstruction effort in Gaza similar to the Marshall Plan in Western Europe after World War II. He is advocating that the international community provide major infusions of economic aid for the Strip.
In an article he co-authored that appeared in Hebrew on the website of the Institute for National Security Studies, Mordechai wrote of a Gordian knot connecting the security situation in Gaza with the civilian and economic conditions. He argued that a continued deterioration of the situation would heighten the risk of an escalation between Israel and Hamas, which has had overall control of the territory. Mordechai recommended that Israel support broad efforts to provide a prospect for real improvement for the civilian population in the enclave.
Commenting on Abu-Rukun’s appointment, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman called him one of the country’s greatest experts on the Palestinians, adding that he has been very impressed by Abu-Rukun’s management skills in his current position. With regard to Mordechai, the defense minister said he is a strategic asset for the country and he will continue to draw on his talents.