Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week, to coordinate efforts by Israel and the PA to combat the influence of Hamas in the West Bank and its destabilizing moves in Gaza.
Bar also visited Egypt on Sunday for the first time since being named to the position last month, for a meeting with Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel.
That meeting was held following reports in recent weeks of Egyptian efforts to reach an agreement on an extended ceasefire and prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas.
The two also discussed terror groups in the Sinai.
Nadav Argaman, Bar’s predecessor, was sometimes the only Israeli with whom Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian officials were willing to speak, as he is considered objective, fair and focused on mutual security.
Bar’s visit came approximately two months after a similar visit by Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Bar’s meetings in Cairo, and his and Gantz’s Ramallah meetings, are part of the government’s policy to actively strengthen the PA and weaken Hamas.
Appointed on October 13, Bar is still establishing his bona fides, even as he has to contend with the agency’s controversial collaboration with the police to reduce the Arab-Israel murder wave.
Also, Israeli intelligence was recently tied to the NSO Group spying on Palestinian human rights groups that Israel, led by the Shin Bet, has said also function as a terror-financing laundering network.
Abbas and many Palestinian groups expressed outrage over these issues, and it was unclear if Bar may have also addressed these disputes during Wednesday’s meeting.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said upon his appointment, “We must drive forward to the goal in which there is no room for doubt, and in which we remove from the enemy any desire to challenge us” with terror or other security threats.
Bar, 55, is married and has three children. He holds a university degree in political science and philosophy from Tel Aviv University, and a master’s degree in public management from Harvard University.
Bennett served in the same special forces unit as Bar during his IDF service, though he is younger than Bar, and some believe this influenced the final decision.
In 2011, Bar was appointed head of the Shin Bet’s operations, and in 2016 was promoted to head Shin Bet headquarters, the No. 3 post, responsible for force buildup.
In 2018, he became deputy chief of the agency.
Bar’s units have been given numerous security awards over the years.
Jerusalem Post Staff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.