Targeted appointment: Tehran and its affiliates under the direction of the designated head of the institution

There was something healthy and normal this week in D.’s appointment as head of the Mossad. No pressures, rumors and rumors, no intrigues and insults, no pompous press conferences. Laconic announcement, at noon, of the proper appointment of a worthy person whose name will remain confidential until the appointment receives the approval of the Committee for Senior Appointments in the Civil Service.

It was a moment of sanity in the political-governmental reality in Israel, which was immediately overshadowed by the appointment of a new commissioner Shalva in criticism and allegations of hidden interests. All this was spared from D., and it’s good that way: , Appreciated and very matter-of-fact.It is better for him and the institution to remain so.

D.’s appointment was less surprising because of the man, and more because of the timing. Prime Minister Netanyahu does not tend to appoint easily. He hesitates and struggles, decides and repeats it. He decided on the appointment of Yossi Cohen well beyond the 90th minute, after he had already tended to appoint another person to the position. The same goes for the appointment of his predecessor, Tamir Pardo, who was eventually preferred to Yuval Diskin.

This time Netanyahu decided six months before Cohen ended his term. This is healthy not only because D. will be able to comfortably end his position as deputy head of the Mossad, take a short leave to refresh himself, and then make an orderly overlap before taking over the organization, but mainly because he has been spared the job, even when it comes to two gentlemen like D. ‘And A’ (the contestant who lost) was surely accompanied by an unnecessary and harmful campaign of pressures and rumors.

Mossad chief Yossi Cohen // Photo: Gideon Markovich

Considerations for the appointment have not been made public – neither about the man nor about the timing – but it can be assumed that Netanyahu feared that the election campaign and the process of forming the government after it might delay the appointment. Cohen has already made it clear that he intends to end in June (after having already agreed to a six-month extension), and retire after five and a half successful years in office, and it is likely that Netanyahu wanted to make sure he would be the one to appoint his successor.

Unlike incumbent, D. is not Netanyahu’s man. His acquaintances say he is nobody’s man. Pompous as it may sound, D. is in an institution because of Zionism. And interest of course. He was already on a civic track, working in investments and finance, but was looking for action and enlisted in an agent operators course, which is called in the jargon of the institution of collection (collection officers).

The person who authorized D. as operator was David Meidan, later head of the diplomatic department at the institution (“Tevel”), but his mentor was Cohen. The outgoing head of the Mossad accompanied his successor almost from the beginning: in his various positions in the Agents’ Operations Division (“Junction”), which he both commanded, and finally when he appointed him his deputy and supported him as his successor. Although the two are different in character – D. is less extroverted, and under it the organization is likely to return to the shadows – but think similarly about the way the institution should operate, especially in the face of its main goal – Iran.

D., like Cohen, is a clear supporter of the “maximum pressure” approach to Iran. Credit to this slogan may be given to the Trump administration, but the institution has a large part in its implementation. This is pressure on all fronts: diplomatic-diplomatic, economic, military, scientific and religious. Anything that can help reduce Iran’s power and bad influence, in its geographical expansion efforts and especially in its attempts to arm itself with nuclear weapons.

A theoretical, and practical stick

Iran is in a complex situation. Financially, she’s on her knees. Reality at an unprecedented low, unemployment at its peak, the public in despair. Along with the corona that has made a name for itself, Iran desperately needs the horizon. It will therefore do everything in its power to return as quickly as possible to the Nuclear Treaty (JCPOA) so that it can benefit from the dividend that accompanies it – the removal of the US economic sanctions that have suffocated its economy.

Meanwhile, the Iranians are accumulating assets, mainly in the nuclear field. The International Atomic Energy Agency has documented six breaches of the agreement on their part, including accumulating a much larger amount than allowed for low-level enriched uranium, and installing advanced centrifuges at the enrichment facility at Natanz. The latest violation is particularly troubling to Israel: the combination of advanced centrifuges that allow for rapid enrichment with relative immunity, due to the activity carried out in a facility operating in the depths of the mountains.

As an additional means of pressure, Iran decided (but has not yet implemented it) to start enriching uranium to a level of 20 percent, another step on the way to the bomb. It is likely to have avoided this in light of reports about Trump’s discussions last month regarding the possibility of attacking the nuclear facilities before he ends his term. At this point all the Iranians want is to end the Trump chapter, and move on, to the Biden administration, hoping it will be more convenient for them.

The countries of the region will have to choose whether they are in the camp of the good.  Hassan Rouhani with Syrian Foreign Minister, this month in Tehran // Photo: Reuters

Biden and his men have already stated that they will work to return to the nuclear deal, but at the same time have made it clear that they will not allow Iran to become nuclear. This allows Israel a considerable area of ​​activity (political and intelligence) in Washington, to influence the achievement of a better agreement. The discourse – at least at the political level – will be less intimate than with the Trump administration, but the new administration is also paved with people for whom Israel and its security are very dear, including Biden himself who declared himself in the past after visiting Mount Herzl that he defines himself as a Zionist.

Along with the diplomatic part, Israel must also have a stick in the air – theoretical and practical. Theoretical on the side of renewing the option of attacking the nuclear facilities that was dropped from the chapter at the beginning of the talks on the previous nuclear agreement, and practical on the side of continuing to neutralize the factors that endanger its security.

In some places it will be easy: in Syria, for example, Israel is not likely to run into problems if it continues to thwart Iran’s intensification and consolidation in the region. Elsewhere it may be more difficult: Under the Trump administration, Israel could also operate on Iranian soil, knowing that there is a broad American umbrella above it. This allowed the theft of the nuclear archive, and various actions attributed to Israel – from the assassination of the nuclear projector Muhsin Fahrizadeh, through the explosion at the centrifuge factory in Natanz, to the assassination of senior al-Qaeda official Abdullah Ahmad Abdullah, who was commissioned by the Americans. Eliminated Qassem Suleimani themselves).

The institution under D. will have a central part in all of these. On the operational side of course, but also on the diplomatic side. One of the most significant assets that Israel currently holds is a series of overt and covert alliances in the Middle East. In fact, there is no Sunni state in the region that does not maintain some kind of ties with Israel (including some particularly surprising ones). The common motive for all these relationships is interests, one of the most prominent of which is the common struggle in Iran.

With the right action, Israel can weave these interests into pressure on the Americans and the West, in order to achieve a better nuclear agreement, and more importantly: to establish with them an undeclared political-military alliance that will put practical counterweight to the Iranians and pose a difficult dilemma Extremists, such as Syria – do they want to continue to belong to the bad guys in the Middle East, or move to a camp of the good ones.