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Vetting committee green lights R as Shin Bet chief 

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Vetting committee green lights R as Shin Bet chief 

The government’s vetting committee for senior appointments on Friday cleared “R” to be the next Shin Bet Director starting October 13.

His name and picture will be made public once the government gives final approval, but at this point that is basically a rubber stamp since the entire political spectrum has been supportive of R’s nomination following his decades of service in the agency, including serving as the current deputy chief.

Early Newspaper

Briefly, between Wednesday night and Friday, there was sudden concern that his nomination might tank like Moshe Edri, who was blocked by the vetting committee in 2018 from becoming chief of police based on a last-minute scandal.

But the Goldenberg Committee for Senior Appointments, led by former Supreme Court justice and state comptroller Eliezer Goldenberg, said it found nothing improper about “R’s” conduct once it heard from him, outgoing Shin Bet Director Nadav Argaman and other involved officials.

Since the anonymous letter detailing two unspecified alleged incidents of misconduct against R have been rejected and Shin Bet processes are classified, it is unclear whether their substance will ever come to light. 

On September 1, Prime Minister Naftali Bennett nominated R to succeed  Argaman 

R beat out the most recent former deputy Shin Bet chief, also known as “R” in the mainly two-way race.

Prior to June when opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu was prime minister, former senior Shin Bet official and Netanyahu’s national security council chief Meir Ben-Shabbat had been the favorite.

But he was never seriously considered for the position by Bennett due to his closeness with Netanyahu and objections to his candidacy from within portions of the Shin Bet itself.

R is 55, married, and has three children.

SHIN BET Director Nadav Argaman.  (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)SHIN BET Director Nadav Argaman. (credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

He had a university degree in political science and philosophy from Tel Aviv University and a master’s degree in public management from Harvard University.

R served in the IDF as part of the elite Sayeret Matkal Reconnaissance Special Forces unit.

Bennett served in the same unit during his IDF service, though he is younger than R, and some believe this influenced the final decision.

In 2011, R was appointed head of the Shin Bet’s operations.

Then in 2016, he was promoted to be the head of Shin Bet headquarters, the number three post responsible for force buildup.

In 2018, he replaced the other R as deputy chief of the agency.

R’s units have been given numerous security awards over the years.

Bennett said that “R is a daring fighter and an excellent commander. I have no doubt that he will lead the agency to new highs of excellence for the sake of Israel’s security.”

R’s identity will only be made public after he passes additional stages of vetting and approvals, but the prime minister’s choice for the Shin Bet nearly always goes forward.

Those who supported either of the two deputy chief Rs all along have noted that almost all recent Shin Bet chiefs served as deputy chiefs beforehand.

In comparing the two R’s, some sources said the prior deputy chief R has a bigger world view when it comes to technology, collection and analysis of intelligence issues.

Some also point out that prior deputy chief R was involved in major defense situations during the 2014 Gaza war, which current R has not quite had to match and which was more substantial than even the 2008-2009 Gaza war, which Ben-Shabbat helped manage.

In addition, some say that prior R is more beloved, inspires more social cohesion among the rank and file than current R.

But prior R may have burned some bridges with an interview that he gave to Channel 12’s Uvda following the 2014 Operation Protective Edge. He claimed the agency had warned the IDF and Benjamin Netanyahu that Hamas was ready to fight, but was ignored.

This won him some enemies – including some who hold him responsible for failing to sound the alarm about Hamas loud enough.

 lso, some say that current R may be more charismatic and more of a stand-out talent in operations than prior R.

Further, they say that current R has filled in some of his inexperience with Shin Bet branches beyond the operations side by serving consecutively in the agency’s number two and number three roles. Both of these roles require wide exposure to all of the agency’s branches.

In the end, the current R prevailed.

Argaman has run the agency since May 20126 and was due to step down this past May, but his term was extended due to the lack of a stable coalition at the time when his term was due to expire.

The current Shin Bet chief was known for dramatically shifting the resources and manpower of the Shin Bet toward the technology and cyber spheres, various daring operations, positive security relations with the Palestinians and for pushing back against incitement from right-wing politicians against the formation of the current coalition.

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Vetting committee green lights R as Shin Bet chief