"I think there is no one worthier then him for this position. I am sure that my colleagues in the Cabinet and the Government have also been impressed by the qualities he brings to this job, his sharpness of mind, his rich experience, the clarity of which he presents things," Netanyahu said during his opening Cabinet remarks.
"He does not round things up, he does not cover up, he says his opinion in the clearest possible way, and I think this will be an opportunity for Meir who has contributed greatly to Israel's security, to make another significant contribution to its national security. I am congratulating in advance, because I am certain that this appointment as well as the other appointments will be accepted unanimously.
"Ben Shabbat does not cut corners, he speaks his opinion and cuts straight to the point,” Netanyahu added. “Meir has made enormous contributions to the security of the State of Israel and I believe that the position will give him the opportunity to make further contributions to its national security."
Ben Shabbat takes his new position after serving in the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet) where he headed its southern division for three years and replaced acting NSC head Eitan Ben David.
He joined the Shin Bet in 1989 upon his released from his service in the IDF's Givati Brigade. He started his journey in the southern district, acquired expertise on Hamas and the Gaza Strip, and played a part in most operations against the Gaza terror group over the past two decades.
Among other things, he led the Shin Bet's operations in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead in 2008-9.
The confirmation lends stability to the position after a period of close to two years in which the NSC was left without a permanent director since Yossi Cohen left the position to lead the Mossad in January 2016.
Cohen was replaced by Ya’akov Nagel who served as acting head of the NSC until April 2017, but turned down Netanyahu’s offer to take up the position on a permanent basis, citing personal reasons.
In February 2016, Netanyahu offered the position to the NSC’s former deputy head Avriel Bar Yossef; however, the NGO Ometz (Citizens for Proper Administration and Social and Legal Justice) petitioned against the appointment on the grounds that he had received benefits for promoting the interests of an overseas businessman.
He later decided to turn down the offer and in November 2016 he was questioned by police on suspicion of bribery, money laundering and breach of trust. In July this year he was arrested on suspicion of taking bribes in Case 3,000 regarding Israel’s purchase of submarines from Germany.
Ben Shabbat, 51, is married with four children and holds a degree in political science from Bar Ilan University and is a graduate of Tel Aviv University’s graduate program for directors. He joined the Shin Bet in 1989 after completing his military service in the Givati Brigade. Ben Shabbat worked his way up the ranks in the Shin Bet, gaining expertise in Hamas and the Gaza Strip. He headed the Shin Bet’s operations in Gaza during Operation Cast Lead, the 2008-09 Gaza war.
Reprinted with the permission from TPS.