Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu announced today that he has appointed Yoram Cohen as the next chief of Israel’s general security services, the Shin Bet.
Cohen will replace Yuval Diskin, whose six-year term ends on May 15. Cohen is the first observant Jew to fill the position.
A former deputy Shin Bet chief, Cohen was considered to be a leading candidate to replace Diskin. He is expected to enter the position pending approval of the Turkel Committee, charged with authorizing such appointments.
Cohen was born in Israel and completed his Israel Defense Forces services in the Golani Brigade, while participating in a joint hesder yeshiva program. He joined the Shin Bet 30 years ago and has served in a wide range of commanding and staff positions in Israel’s security services.
In announcing his decision on Monday, Netanyahu lauded Diskin for his “important and effective” contribution as Shin Bet chief over the last six years. “I am certain that in thanking him, I am doing so on behalf of all Israeli citizens,” Netanyahu said.
“Yoram was the spearhead of activity in the agency over the past few years,” Netanyahu said of his choice for Diskin’s replacement. “Cohen is a real field man.”
The Shin Bet handles internal security in Israel and the Palestinian areas.
Cohen takes over at a time of tension with the Palestinians, with a sudden escalation in attacks and counterattacks between Israel and Hamas-led Gaza.
Outwardly, he will have to deal with an emerging reality in the Gaza-Sinai-Egypt triangle, and to prepare, with the police, for a possible mix of terror attacks, renewed cooperation between Hamas and Hezbollah, and mass public disturbances – and all this in light of the uncertainty in Israel’s domestic politics leading up to new elections.