Efraim Halevy (born 1934) is a lawyer and an Israeli intelligence expert. He was the ninth director of Mossad and the 4th head of the Israeli National Security Council.
Above all, he is remembered for his part in bringing about the peace treaty with Jordan. The special relationship he developed with King Hussein made it possible for Halevy to open Jordan to the awareness that only a peace agreement with Israel would extricate the Hashemite kingdom from the crisis after the Gulf War.
Halevy was born in the United Kingdom to an established Orthodox Jewish family. He emigrated to Israel in 1948. He attended Ma’aleh, a religious high school in Jerusalem, and later, graduated (with commendation) in law.
Between 1957-1961 he was the editor of the journal Monthly Survey published by the Chief Education Officer. In 1961, he began his work in the Mossad. In 1967, he was selected to the Chief Branches Forum.
Halevy remained in the Mossad for the next 28 years, heading three different branches throughout.
Between 1990-1995, under the directorship of Shabtai Shavit, he served as deputy director and as head of the headquarters branch. In 1996, he became the Israeli ambassador to the European Union in Brussels. In March 1998, he became the director of Mossad following the resignation of Danny Yatom.
Halevy served as the envoy and confidant of five Prime Ministers: Yitzhak Shamir, Yitzhak Rabin, Benjamin Netanyahu, Ehud Barak and Ariel Sharon. He took an active part in a special mission by Rabin in forging the Israel-Jordan Treaty of Peace. After the failure of the Mossad operation to assassinate Hamas leader Khaled Mashal in 1997, he took an active part in Benjamin Netanyahu’s mission to return the Mossad men captured in Jordan, and to settle the crisis with the King of Jordan.
On October 2002, he was appointed the second head of the National Security Council and an advisor to Prime Minister Ariel Sharon. In June 2003, he resigned from this position after Dov Weisglass, the bureau chief of Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, isolated and neutralized him, and Prime Minister Sharon refrained from accepting his recommendations on a host of issues and went to teach at Hebrew University of Jerusalem. He is the author of the book The role of the intelligence community in the age of strategic alternatives for Israel.
He is known as a hard-headed pragmatist on issues involving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, willing to ruffle feathers on the right and the left, unlike many others in the intelligence establishment who are known to take more extreme ideological positions on these issues.
Halevy believes that Israel should take up Hamas’s offer of a long-term truce and try negotiating, because the Islamic movement is respected by Palestinians and generally keeps its word, he said. He pointed to the cease-fire in attacks on Israel that Hamas declared two years ago and has largely honored. “They’re not very pleasant people, but they are very, very credible,” Halevy said.
In 2006 he published the book Man in the Shadows, covering Middle Eastern history since the late 1980s. Halevy was interviewed about his book on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart on April 24, 2006, and by guest host Brian Ross on the Charlie Rose Show.
Halevy has written extensively on Israel’s relationship with the United States, generally taking a moderate, pragmatic view of the Washington-Jerusalem alliance. He wrote, for example: “Never, but NEVER surprise the president of the United States is a dictum I learned very quickly when entering the Mossad in 1961.”
For October 23, 2012, during the United States presidential campaign between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney, Halevy published an op-ed piece “Who Threw Israel Under the Bus?” in the New York Times countering Mitt Romney’s assertions about Obama’s stance toward Israel. In it Halevy cited several key instances over the years in which the “Republican White House acted in a cold and determined manner, with no regard for Israel’s national pride, strategic interests or sensitivities” but that “no Democratic president has ever strong-armed Israel on any key national security issue.” He concluded: “That’s food for thought in October 2012.”
Man in the Shadows: Inside the Middle East Crisis with a Man Who Led the Mossad
In this gripping inside look, Halevy opens his private dossier on events past and present: the assassination attempt by the Mossad on the life of Khaled Mashal, now the leader of Khammas; the negotiations surrounding the Israeli-Jordan Peace Accord and its importance for the stability of the region; figures in the CIA, like Jim Angleton and George Tenet, with whom he worked (Halevy even shares his feelings about Tenet’s abrupt resignation). He tells the truth about what the Mossad really knew before 9/11. He writes candidly about assessing the threat of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction in the region and beyond, and what this spells for the future of international stability and survival. He touches on the increasing visibility of the CIA in the Middle East and openly shares his misgivings about both the report of the 9/11 Commission and the Middle East road map to peace that was pressed on all sides of the conflict by the U.S. government. He looks at the terrorist attacks in Madrid and London and their far-reaching effects, and states the unthinkable: We have yet to see the worst of what the radical Islamic terrorists are capable of.