Next Shin Bet chief's religious advantage

By Anshel Pfeffer, March 31, 2011
New at the top: Yoram Cohen

New at the top: Yoram Cohen

Yoram Cohen is to be appointed in two months as the next chief of Israel's internal security organisation, the Shin Bet.

Mr Cohen, 51, was the deputy of current Shin Bet chief, Yuval Diskin, who will be stepping down after six years.

He was chosen over the current deputy, whose name is classified and who was previously regarded by many in the security establishment as the leading candidate.

A 29-year veteran of the Shin Bet, Mr Cohen, who joined immediately following his army service in the elite Sayeret Golani unit, spent most of his career in intelligence posts in the West Bank, rising through the ranks to become chief of the entire West Bank and Jerusalem region in 2003. He also spent four years heading the anti-Arab and Iranian terror department.

He is the first religiously observant Shin Bet chief. One former senior Shin Bet operative said: "The fact that he is religious is significant since one of the main challenges he will have to confront is the violence of extremist religious settlers. He speaks their language and that will give him a distinct advantage."

Last updated: 12:19pm, March 31 2011