Nadav Argaman will end his term as head of Israel’s clandestine police, the Shin Bet, and top officials in the agency fear that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu intends to appoint the head of the National Security Council and the PM’s right hand Meir Ben-Shabbat to the post, Kan 11 News reported Tuesday night.
“If Netanyahu appoints Meir Ben-Shabbat as head of the Shin Bet, we will resign from the service,” senior Shin Bet officials told Kan 11.
Ben-Shabbat began serving as National Security Adviser and Deputy Chief of Staff for National Security in the Prime Minister’s Office in 2017, and as part of his role, he is also involved in Israel’s fight against COVID-19. Ben-Shabbat also played a role in establishing ties between Israel and the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain, and in October joined US Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin and a group of Israeli and American officials on the first official business delegation to the UAE. He then led the Israeli delegation to Bahrain.
In conversations behind closed doors, Shin Bet officials have threatened that if the prime minister appoints Ben-Shabbat as head of the service, it won’t be on purely professional grounds, but for personal and political reasons. They say Ben-Shabbat is not professionally suitable to head the organization, and repeat their threat that, since they have no confidence in the man, should he be appointed they would resign.
Haaretz reported that at least four Shin Bet senior officials are currently considering early retirement in the event of Ben-Shabbat’s appointment. Also, two Shin Bet executives who are perceived as candidates for the chief’s position, the deputy head of the service and the previous deputy, are expected to retire if they lose the bid to Ben-Shabbat – or each other.
Those senior Shin Bet officials insist that they object to Ben-Shabbat’s appointment of his very close affiliation with Netanyahu, but because, according to the senior officials who have worked for decades with Ben-Shabbat in the Shin Bet and know him well, his curriculum vitae and his abilities in the positions he has held make him the least worthy and least suitable candidate. According to them, his appointment to the position would severely damage the organization.