Historical Dictionary of Israeli Intelligence

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of one of Ben-Gurion’s close associates, Isser Harel, to chair the
Committee of Directors of the Intelligence Services in late 1952.
Since his patrons were unable to supply him with a new job in the
defense establishment, Ben-Natan, on leaving the Foreign Ministry,
was appointed chief executive officer of Incoda, a dummy Israeli
government corporation set up in Eritrea, officially to supply meat to
Israel. In practice Incoda was engaged in recruiting spies to be dis-
patched to Arab countries. But Peres did not forget his protégé, and
in 1956, as director-general of the Defense Ministry, he appointed
Ben-Natan to represent the ministry and head its acquisitions mission
in France. In this capacity, Ben-Natan participated in talks on coop-
eration between France, Great Britain, and Israel prior to the Sinai
Campaignof 1956. But Ben-Natan was subsequently named head of
the Israeli Defense Ministry’s mission in Europe and thus played a
part in the acquisition of the nuclear reactor in Dimona.
In 1959 Peres, who had just become deputy minister of defense,
appointed Ben-Natan director-general of the ministry. For six years
Ben-Natan served Peres with absolute loyalty, carrying out his poli-
cies to the letter; he was involved in various major affairs, such as the
purchase of Mirage fighter jets from France, the acquisition of
weapons from West Germany, the Damocles Operationagainst the
German scientists in Egypt and the failed attempt to assassinate them,
and the construction of missiles in Israel.
After the establishment of diplomatic relations between Israel and
the Federal Republic of Germany, Ben-Natan was appointed Israel’s
first ambassador to Bonn. While serving in that post, he conducted
talks on West German economic aid, which was obtained in 1966.
In light of his previous experience as head of the Defense Min-
istry’s mission to France, Ben-Natan was appointed Israel’s ambas-
sador to Paris in 1970. On completing his stint in Paris in 1975, he re-
turned to the Defense Ministry, where he served as an adviser to
Peres, who was by then minister of defense. Ben-Natan was in-
volved, albeit without much effectiveness, in formulating policies on
lands belonging to Israeli Arabs, the rehabilitation of Palestinian
refugees in the Gaza Strip, contacts with the Christians in Lebanon,
and the Yehonathan Operation in Entebbe. Ben-Natan ran unsuc-
cessfully as the Labor party candidate in Tel Aviv–Jaffa’s mayoralty
race in 1977.


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