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Cabinet confirms ex-spy Eyal Hulata as Bennett’s national security adviser

PM says 23-year Mossad veteran is ‘a very creative and very experienced individual, who understands the challenges of national security’

Eyal Hulata in an undated photograph. (courtesy)
Eyal Hulata in an undated photograph. (courtesy)

The cabinet confirmed on Monday the appointment of former Mossad officer Eyal Hulata as national security adviser and head of Israel’s National Security Council.

In a statement, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett congratulated Hulata and said he believed the former spy would bring years of diplomatic and technological experience to the job.

“He is a very creative and very experienced individual, who understands the challenges of national security, and I am sure that he will carry out his role successfully,” Bennett said in a statement.

Hulata is set to assume office on August 15.

Hulata, 45, served in Israel’s Mossad spy agency for some 23 years, including in senior positions. He was selected as national security adviser from a lengthy list of candidates, apparently at the recommendation of the current Mossad chief David Barnea.

The Times of Israel learned that in the run-up to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, Hulata held the opinion that the accord was the lesser evil when compared to no deal at all.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem Monday, July 19, 2021. (Pool Photo via AP)

Hulata, serving in the Mossad at the time, made his opinion clear at various internal forums in the lead-up to the signing of the deal, according to senior officials who were involved at the time in Israel’s response to Iran’s nuclear program.

The sources, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said Hulata took the view that Israel should not fervently push back against the United States as it worked to broker the 2015 deal — contrary to the position adopted at the time by then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Hulata reportedly advised that Israel should learn to live with the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA).

During the years leading up to the signing of the JCPOA, Hulata headed the Mossad spy agency’s department for strategic planning and its technology unit.

Bennett has publicly stated his opposition to the deal both before and after taking office as prime minister, though he has vowed to adopt a more conciliatory approach in talks with the United States.

Given Hulata’s views on the nuclear deal, his appointment to the post could serve as a message to US officials that Bennett is more open to hearing the benefits of Washington’s planned return to the accord.

Hulata will succeed Meir Ben-Shabbat, who announced earlier this month that he would be stepping down from the role.

Tal Schneider contributed to this report.

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