Shin Bet head Ronen Bar met with Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah

New Shin Bet Director Ronen Bar met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas last week to coordinate Israel and the PA’s efforts to combat Hamas’ influence in the West Bank and its destabilizing moves in Gaza.

Bar also visited Egypt for the first time on Sunday in a meeting with Egyptian Intelligence Chief Abbas Kamel.

That meeting came amid a flurry of reports in recent weeks of extensive efforts by Egypt to reach agreements concerning an extended ceasefire and prisoner exchange deal between Israel and Hamas in Gaza and to discuss issues with terror groups in the Sinai.

Though there has been an uneasy reduction in conflict between the sides since the May 10-21 war, a low simmering conflict has continued and periodically threatened to revert into a full-scale war.

Nadav Argaman, Bar’s predecessor, was sometimes the only Israeli official who Egyptian, Jordanian and Palestinian officials were willing to speak to as someone who would be objective, fair and focused on mutual security.

Bar’s visit came approximately two months after a similar visit by Defense Minister Benny Gantz. Bar’s meetings in Cairo and his and Gantz’s Ramallah meetings are part of the government’s policy to actively strengthen the PA and weaken Hamas.

 Incoming Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (credit: KOBY GIDEON/GPO) Incoming Shin Bet head Ronen Bar and Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (credit: KOBY GIDEON/GPO)

Appointed on October 13, Bar is still establishing his bona fides as he has to contend with the agency controversially helping the police with reducing the Israeli-Arab murder wave.

Also, recently Israeli intelligence was tied to NSO Group spying on Palestinian human rights groups which Israel, led by the Shin Bet, has said double as terror financing laundering networks.

Abbas and many Palestinian groups expressed outrage over these issues and it was unclear if Bar may have also addressed these disputes during Wednesday’s meeting.

Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, who nominated Bar on September 1, said upon his appointment, “we must drive forward to the goal in which there is no room for doubt and in which we remove from the enemy any desire to challenge us” with terror or other security threats.

Bar is 55, married, and has three children.

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.

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

In 2011, Bar 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 became deputy chief of the agency.

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

Jerusalem Post Staff and Lahav Harkov contributed to this report.

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