Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announces the appointment of the next director of Israel’s Mossad espionage agency.
David Barnea, 56, who now serves as deputy head of the organization, will replace the outgoing director, Yossi Cohen, Netanyahu says at the annual ceremony this afternoon conferring the Prime Minister’s Award for exceptional Mossad officers.
Barnea’s top task, the prime minister declares, “is to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.”
Barnea, a married father of four, has served for 25 years in the Mossad, including in prominent operational roles that saw him rise to lead the Mossad branch that handles the organization’s agents worldwide. He was appointed Cohen’s deputy in 2019. He will take over as director on June 1.
The appointment was held up for months — Netanyahu announced he had chosen Cohen’s replacement back in December, though the name was kept secret until today — by legal concerns as to whether an interim government is permitted to appoint the next Mossad director. But Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit informed Netanyahu recently that he saw no legal impediments and the appointment went ahead.
Cohen has served as head of the Mossad since January 2016.
“I wish [Barnea] all success in the post, and I’m convinced the incoming Mossad director will do great things and will continue to lead the Mossad to operational successes and meaningful achievements,” Cohen says in a brief statement at the event.