Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday he has extended the tenure of Mossad Director Yossi Cohen for six months “due to the security challenges confronting the State of Israel.”
Cohen’s tenure would be extended from January 2021 to June 2021, a statement from the Prime Minister’s Office said.
Cohen was appointed in January 2016 for the standard term of five years, meaning his tenure would have expired in less than six months without the change.
June 2021 is significant because it means Netanyahu gets to select Cohen’s successor before the November 2021 planned unity-government rotation shift in which Blue and White’s Benny Gantz is set to become prime minister.
Cohen clearly has been Netanyahu’s favorite Mossad chief to work with out of five chiefs.
From 1996-1999, Netanyahu worked with Danny Yatom, who later became a Labor MK and had a very different ideology.
Next, Netanyahu worked with Efraim Halevy, who once again, had different views than Netanyahu on a number of issues and primarily got the green light after helping the prime minister fix the Khaled Mashaal assassination scandal.
When Netanyahu became prime minister again in 2009, he inherited Meir Dagan, who was already a legendary figure.
Dagan helped block any potential attempt by Netanyahu to attack Iran.
Netanyahu appointed Tamir Pardo director from 2011-2016, but Pardo made or leaked multiple statements contradicting Netanyahu regarding the severity of the Iranian threat and the pressing need to make peace with the Palestinians.
In contrast, Cohen served as Netanyahu’s national security adviser for about three years and views both the Iranian and Palestinian issues similarly to Netanyahu.
Cohen’s tenure has been highlighted by: 1) the daring 2018 operation to seize Iran’s secret nuclear files; 2) leading Israel’s initial response to purchasing much-needed medical equipment globally; 3) targeted killings of weapons scientists with no “footprints” that could be traced to Israel; and 4) diversity in hiring, including elevating multiple women to the Mossad’s small and powerful executive council.
He is also viewed by some as a potential future candidate to lead the Likud in a post-Netanyahu era.