Mr. Shavit was one of a number of leading Israeli officials who successfully lobbied the Clinton administration to pardon Marc Rich, the American oil trader who had fled to Switzerland after being indicted on charges of widespread tax evasion, illegal dealings with Iran and other crimes. Mr. Shavit had praised Mr. Rich for allowing Mossad agents to use his offices around the world and for financing airlifts of Jews from Ethiopia, Yemen and other countries.
Among his survivors are his wife, Yael, who worked with him as a covert agent early in his career, and his children and grandchildren.
In his memoir, “Head of the Mossad: In Pursuit of a Safe and Secure Israel” (2020), Mr. Shavit wrote: “The world during the Cold War was infinitely more stable than the world in which we live today. The fear of global annihilation in an inter-power nuclear event generated global stability, which lasted until 1990. The Soviet Union collapsed, but the United States was not able to seize the decade during which it was the only sheriff in town to establish a new global order.”
He expressed particular concern about the rise of international terrorism, saying the Islamic State “has brought terrorism to an extreme human history has not known since the Huns invaded the West from the steppes of Asia.”
Despite his outspoken criticism of Mr. Netanyahu, Mr. Shavit described himself as taciturn.
As befits a man engaged in espionage, his reputation for laconism was so legendary that when he accepted his appointment as director general, Prime Minister Shamir turned to the person next to him and said, “I never knew that Shabtai could speak!”
“As the saying goes,” Mr. Shavit recalled, “I never regretted the things I didn’t say.”
Ronen Bergman contributed reporting.