Cabinet approves nomination of Ronen Bar as next Shin Bet chief

Name of agency’s current deputy head cleared for publication after ministers okay promotion; Bennett says he’ll lead domestic spy agency to ‘new heights of action and excellence’

New Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L) with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on October 11, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)
New Shin Bet chief Ronen Bar (L) with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett on October 11, 2021. (Kobi Gideon/GPO)

The cabinet on Monday approved the nomination of Ronen Bar, the current deputy head of the Shin Bet, to fill the top job at the domestic security service.

Bar’s name was previously barred from publication for security reasons. He was approved for the role despite an anonymous letter claiming unspecified misconduct.

Bar served in the Israel Defense Forces’ elite Sayeret Matkal unit, the same detachment in which Prime Minister Naftali 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.

Announcing the decision to approve Bar, Bennett called him a “brave warrior and daring commander, who throughout his life has been engaged in the loftiest mission of all — protecting Israel’s security.”

“He has often risked his life for the homeland,” said Bennett, adding that he was confident Bar would lead the security service to “new heights of action and excellence.”

Bar will succeed Nadav Argaman on Wednesday.

Bennett tapped Bar as the next Shin Bet chief in September. Bar has since faced vetting by the Goldberg Committee for high-level civil service appointments, which said in a statement on Friday that it did not find any “defect in the purity of the qualities” of Bar, nor any issue with the process that resulted in him being appointed.

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)

Two separate claims were made in an anonymous letter presented to the panel, the specifics of which could not be detailed publicly due to security constraints.

With regards to the letter including the allegations, senior members of the committee told the Ynet news site that such missives are dangerous, and a solution to the issue must be found. Several similar letters about Bar have been sent to the committee since 2019, according to Hebrew-language media reports.

The claims made in those previous letters were already examined within the Shin Bet, and little evidence was found to substantiate them, Channel 12 reported.

When news of the anonymous letter against him broke on Wednesday, Bar issued a statement to the media saying, “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.

“The letter lacks 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,” he said.

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 enable more time to find a suitable successor.

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