Olmert extends term of office of Mossad chief

Many in the Arab world believe Mossad has been behind several high-profile assassinations in Lebanon and Syria, most recently of Hezbollah military chief Imad Moughniyah, who died in a Feb. 12 car-bombing in Damascus.

Olmert extends term of office of Mossad chief

Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Sunday extended the tenure of the Mossad intelligence chief for a second time, testament to the hawkish spymaster's role in crafting policy on Iran and other regional foes.

Meir Dagan, an army ex-general, took over Mossad in 2002 with what security sources described as a mandate to step up Israel's monitoring of Iran's nuclear programme, Syria's military moves and the countries' ties to Islamist factions.

"Meir Dagan is doing his job with exceptional success and the list of Mossad's achievements over the last six years is most impressive," Olmert told his cabinet at its weekly meeting.

Many in the Arab world believe Mossad has been behind several high-profile assassinations in Lebanon and Syria, most recently of Hezbollah military chief Imad Moughniyah, who died in a Feb. 12 car-bombing in Damascus. Israel denied involvement.

Prior to the attack, Dagan came out against holding peace talks with Damascus, but indirect negotiations have since begun. Syria denied ever having a secret nuclear facility.

Dagan has been conferring regularly with Western counterparts while Mossad prepares for possible preemptive military action by Israeli against Iran, security sources said.

"There is no doubt that Mossad's activities are gaining momentum," Olmert said, without elaborating.

Israel's military top brass and civilian defence chiefs generally serve for four years, with a traditional one-year extension. Dagan's tenure was last extended by a year in 2007. He is now due to step down in 2009.

Reuters

Last Mod: 22 Haziran 2008, 16:56
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