Who is new FM D-G Ronen Levy, Israel's secret envoy to the Arab world?

Levy's identity and image were kept under wraps until the announcement of his appointment due to security considerations.

 Ronen Levy, the new Foreign Ministry director-general (photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)
Ronen Levy, the new Foreign Ministry director-general
(photo credit: FOREIGN MINISTRY)

Ronen Levy (Maoz), who has been one of Israel’s secret faces to the Arab world and who helped prepare the groundwork for the Abraham Accords, was appointed Sunday as Foreign Ministry director-general.

Levy, 48, has been a leader in creating secret relations between Israel and countries with which there were no relations, the Foreign Ministry said.

Ronen Levy: Israeli shadow man's identity revealed ahead of new role

A fluent Arabic speaker, who went by the pseudonym Maoz, his identity was so secret that even many of those who dealt with him did not know his real name until information about his appointment was publicized on Sunday.

During the last years of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s previous tenure in office, which ended in 2021, Levy worked as an envoy for him and for former national security adviser Meir Ben Shabbat.

The Abraham Accords, under which Israel normalized ties with the United Arab Emirates, Bahrain, Morocco in and Sudan in 2020, were built in part on his work, specifically the latter two countries. This includes the meeting between Netanyahu and the Chairman of the Sovereignty Council of Sudan, Lieutenant General Abdel Fattah al Burhan in Entebbe in 2020.

There are those, however, that had the impression that his role undercut that of the foreign ministry and there was a sense in particular that he was at odds with the outgoing Foreign Ministry Director-General Alon Ushpiz, who entered his role in 2020

His appointment comes as Netanyahu’s new government looks to expand the Abraham Accords.

According to the Foreign Ministry Levy has been part of Israel’s intelligence and defense community for 30 years, starting with field positions in the country’s security services and including a senior role in the NSC. At the NSC, he helped develop relations with senior government officials from around the world. He is a graduate of the Ben-Gurion University of the Negev and the Peres Academic Institution.

 Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, waits outside the Kedma Hotel, the location of ''The Negev Summit,'' attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the Foreign Ministers of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt in Sde Boker, Israel, March 28, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN) Morocco's Foreign Minister Nasser Bourita, waits outside the Kedma Hotel, the location of ''The Negev Summit,'' attended by US Secretary of State Antony Blinken, and the Foreign Ministers of Israel, the UAE, Bahrain, Morocco and Egypt in Sde Boker, Israel, March 28, 2022 (credit: REUTERS/AMIR COHEN)

FM: Levy's contribution to Israel's standing will be dramatic

Foreign Minister Eli Cohen who appointed Levy upon Usphiz’s resignation said that he “is one of the most experienced and creative people when it comes to connecting and strengthening Israel’s international relations.”

Cohen said: “He has proven himself with countless achievements, not all of which can be talked about.”

“I have no doubt that as director-general, together with the ministry’s professional and dedicated staff, his contribution to Israel’s standing in the world will be dramatic.”

Ben Shabat, now a senior researcher at the Institute for National Security Studies at Tel Aviv University, who has known Levy for over twenty years said he has always made a difference in all the roles he has filled on behalf of the state of Israel.

He described him as a leader who had a "matter-of-fact approach, excellent interpersonal relationships, a collaborative style and systemic vision" as well as someone who was "invested, endlessly dedicated modest and willing to learn from everyone.''