Netanyahu Names New Mossad Head Dovid Barnea

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, center, outgoing Mossad director Yossi Cohen, right, and incoming director David Barnea at a ceremony conferring the Prime Minister's Award on exception Mossad agents, May 24, 2021. (Amos Ben Gershom/GPO)

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced Monday the appointment of David Barnea as the new head of the country’s spy agency, the Mossad.

Barnea, a former longtime Mossad operative, will succeed Yossi Cohen as head of Israel’s intelligence agency on June 1. Cohen has served as Israel’s spymaster since taking office in 2016.

Netanyahu said Barnea’s appointment will allow “the Mossad and the state of Israel to continue in the path of accomplishments to ensure the security of Israel,” adding that the “top mission” is preventing Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Outgoing Mossad chief Cohen has acted as Netanyahu’s close confidant and informal envoy. He helped orchestrate the normalization agreements Israel signed with Bahrain, the United Arab Emirates, Sudan and Morocco last year.

Earlier this month, Cohen visited Bahrain and met with the heads of the Gulf state’s intelligence agency to discuss regional security.

On his watch, Israel’s storied intelligence agency succeeded in seizing a large archive of Iranian nuclear documents in 2018. Netanyahu claimed they proved that Iranian leaders covered up a nuclear weapons program before signing a deal with world powers in 2015. Numerous other operations against Iran’s nuclear facilities and scientists have also been attributed to Israel.

At a ceremony Monday, Cohen said the Mossad executes “innumerable operations” that “bring essential intelligence to the state of Israel, thwart unconventional weapons, thwart terrorism and espionage, and blaze new paths to peace and regional cooperation.”