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Monday, March 28, 2011

Yoram Cohen named new Shin Bet Chief

Yoram Cohen

Prime Minister Netanyahu names intelligence organization's 12th director Monday, opts for religious candidate. Cohen to replace Yuval Diskin, who will end six-year term in May

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu named Yoram Cohen the next Shin Bet director Monday evening.

Cohen will take over for Yuval Diskin, who has served in the position for the past six years.

In Monday's announcement, which was televised for the first time in Israel's history, Netanyahu said that Cohen "joined the Shin Bet over 30 years ago and has served in a variety of positions.

"He rose to the rank of deputy chief, where he served for three years. Yoram has been on the forefront of Shin Bet operations during these years, and especially over the past few years."

The new Shin Bet chief, added the prime minister, "Is someone who has been in the filed. He has grown from it and knows it.

"I am convinced he is also familiar with the challenges we face. I am convinced he possesses the abilities, the experience and the leadership necessary to meet these challenges. I am sure everyone joins me is wishing Yoram the best of luck in his new position. His success will be ours."

Diskin, who has been in office for the past six years, is set to retire in May.

Cohen, who will serve as the intelligence organization's 12th chief, will take office during a tumultuous time in the Middle East, especially on the Palestinian front.

Cohen (51) is religious and resides in Jerusalem. He spent his military service with the Golani Brigade and joined the Shin Bet in 1982. he started his career in the organization as a security officer and a field coordinator in the Ramallah and Binyamin sectors. He was later named head of the Judea District anti-terror division.

Over the years, Cohen rose through Shin Bet ranks and was named head of its Arab-Iranian terror prevention division. In 2003, he was named head of the Jerusalem, Judea and Samaria District. His next promotion saw him named deputy Shin Bet director.

A tough day for terror groups

In 2008, Cohen headed to Washington DC, where he was a research fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy. In the past two years, Cohen, who has a Bachelor's and a Masters in Political Science from Haifa University, has headed various teams formulating the Shin Bet's management policies and technologies.

Shin Bet Chief Diskin congratulated his replacement, wishing him luck in his new role. In an statement released by his office, Diskin said that Cohen's "wealth of experience combined with his personal and professional abilities will enable him to lead the service successfully through the challenges of the present and the future.

"Yoram's appointment, a candidate who grew within the organization will allow the Shin Bet to fulfill its destiny – the security of the State of Israel in the best possible way."

Former Shin Bet Chief Avi Dicter also welcomed the appointment, saying that Cohen "is a true professional, who knows things from top to bottom. I have no doubt that this is a tough day for terror groups.

"He has no problem saying exactly what he thinks professionally, to his superiors and to the political echelon. That is why he is so qualified for this position."

Yaakov Peri, who headed the security service in the 1990s, also welcomed Cohen's appointment, saying that while "there has yet to be a religious chief in the service, I see no reason for that to have any impact whosoever.

"I know him well," Peri added. "He's a moderate man. This is a worthy appointment of a highly regarded professional. I offer both him and Israel my congratulations."

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