Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced on December 7th the appointment of his national security advisor, Yossi Cohen, as the new director of the Mossad—the well-known Israeli intelligence organization. He will be replacing Tamir Pardo, a former SF member of Sayeret Matkal and Shaldag.
Yossi Cohen spent 30 years as an intelligence operative. His primary responsibilities, among many others throughout his service in the Mossad, consisted of running several operations and agents in foreign countries and eventually leading “Tzomet,” the “collection” division of the Mossad. Tzomet is responsible for the efficient collection of information in foreign countries utilizing SIGINT and HUMINT assets. They’re basically the people who find the puzzle pieces and forward it up the chain for assembly.
Throughout his career, Cohen has received recognition for his ability to form deep and lasting connections with his comrades and assets. He has also received the famous Israeli Security Prize for a breakthrough in the field of SIGINT during a specific operation he was involved in. His ability to charm and build rapport is remarkable—so remarkable that he has been selected as Netanyahu’s man responsible for some of the most politically sensitive topics, such as the Iranian nuclear program. He’s played a major role in maintaining the sensitive relations between Netanyahu and the Americans, and the UAE.
What led Netanyahu to choose Cohen over other candidates?
In recent years, we’ve seen a changing battlefield paradigm—one shifting to predominately asymmetric conflicts. We’re no longer facing rolling lines of tanks; our fights have been against more nebulous enemies. In our current times, intelligence work is of the utmost importance. There is not a single operation carried out by an established first-world military that is not based on well-prepared intelligence.
It is also no secret that Israel (to an extent) is going through a miniature phase of isolation. The Israeli diplomatic relationship with the Obama administration is at an all-time low, the EU is threatening Israel with sanctions, the list goes on. Given Cohen’s experience and numerous achievements in the field of international relations, in tandem with his stately demeanor and sense of creativity, he could be just the leadership figure that Mossad, and Israel, needs. He’s a figure who can smile and build bridges over diplomatic problems without expanding the riverbanks, so to speak.
The Mossad will be relied upon heavily to maintain Israel’s security in one of the most challenging times in the history of the Middle East, and as such will require a reliable leader like Cohen at the helm.