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Wednesday, 4 March, 1998, 23:57 GMT
Netanyahu says Israeli spy agency reputation to be restored

Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said on Wednesday after appointing Efrayim Halevi head of the country's Mossad intelligence agency that the organization's reputation for secrecy and efficiency would be restored, following a recent series of damaging mishaps.

Netanyahu told a news conference, broadcast live by Israel TV, that Halevi, a former Mossad deputy chief, and his second-in-command would bring with them the experience necessary to restore the spy agency's tarnished image.

"I intend to return the Mossad to the secrecy under which it used to operate," Netanyahu said.

"I cannot deny that the Mossad has suffered damage in substance, image and other respects, both as a result of mishaps and of numerous unnecessary and irresponsible reports.

"I believe that the combination of Efrayim Halevi and Amiram Levin, with the abilities and experience both of them will be bringing with them, is the combination the Mossad needs at the moment." The outgoing Mossad head, Dani Yatom, resigned last week after Mossad agents were caught wiretapping in Switzerland.

Last year its agents bungled an assassination attempt on an Islamic militant leader in Jordan.

"I would also like to say that I believe in the Mossad, I believe in its men, I believe in the ability of these men to carry out the important missions that the State of Israel entrusts to them.

These are anonymous warriors who work for the security of all of us, and we owe them a great deal," Netanyahu said.

BBC Monitoring (http://www.monitor.bbc.co.uk), based in Caversham in southern England, selects and translates information from radio, television, press, news agencies and the Internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages.


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