Anonymous letter alleging misconduct may snarl approval of new Shin Bet chief

Vetting panel to convene Friday to consider nomination of ‘Resh,’ the current deputy of the agency; he pushes back against allegations

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 15, 2021. (Haim Tzach/GPO)
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (right) and Shin Bet chief Nadav Argaman meet at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem on June 15, 2021. (Haim Tzach/GPO)

An anonymous letter detailing unspecified alleged misconduct against an official whose name cannot be publicly disclosed is threatening to derail the nomination of the next Shin Bet security service director, according to Hebrew media reports on Wednesday.

The letter has been presented to a committee for vetting senior appointments, known as the Goldberg Committee, which will meet on Friday to consider the nomination of the next head of the security agency.

For security reasons, the candidate — who is the current deputy Shin Bet chief — can only be identified by the first Hebrew letter of his name, “Resh,” until he enters office.

The news reports did not specify the allegations laid out in the letter, as they could not be independently verified.

“Resh,” however, pushed back against the claims in a statement to the media.

“This is an anonymous letter that was written and sent about three years ago and is now being widely distributed. Behind the letter is an interested party who previously wanted to undermine two promotions,” he said.

“The letter lacks a factual basis, is full of lies and is also intended to again hurt my appointment. If required, evidence of this will be presented to the senior appointments committee,” the Shin Bet deputy said.

“Resh” must earn the approval of the committee and the government cabinet to be confirmed as Shin Bet chief and succeed Nadav Argaman on October 13. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett named him as the next Shin Bet chief in September.

Argaman has served at the head of the organization since 2016. One of Bennett’s first acts as premier was to extend Argaman’s tenure through October in order to allow for more time to find a suitable successor.

“Resh” served in the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Sayeret Matkal unit, the same detachment in which Bennett served, and then entered the ranks of the Shin Bet as a field agent. He was tapped to lead the Shin Bet’s Operations Division in 2011, became head of the service’s resource development department in 2016, and took over as deputy head of the organization in 2018.

“Resh is a courageous fighter and an excellent commander. I have no doubt that he will lead the service to new heights of excellence for the security of Israel,” Bennett said in a statement announcing Resh’s appointment.

Argaman and Defense Minister Benny Gantz also hailed the decision to appoint him to the position.

Judah Ari Gross contributed to this report.

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