After Galant debacle, Benny Gantz set to be named IDF chief

Appointment will be brought before Turkel Committee, cabinet approval; defense minister says he's the right candidate to "stabilize" IDF.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 5, 2011 19:07
3 minute read.
Benny Gantz check the scene

BennyGantz187. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

In a move aimed at stabilizing the IDF, Defense Minister Ehud Barak will bring a proposal Sunday morning to the cabinet to appoint Maj.- Gen. Benny Gantz, who served until three months ago as the deputy chief of staff, as the IDF’s next chief of General Staff.

In the race to replace Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Gantz originally lost out to Maj.- Gen. Yoav Galant, who has since forfeited the nomination due to the land affair connected to his home in the town of Amikam in northern Israel.

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Gantz’s appointment will be brought before the Turkel Committee and, if cleared, to the cabinet for final approval.

The appointment is not expected to run into opposition since Gantz has all the necessary qualifications to serve as the chief of General Staff. He has served as head of the Northern Command, head of the Ground Forces Command, the IDF’s attaché in Washington DC, and also as deputy chief of staff, making him the most veteran general still in service.

Barak said that he believed Gantz was the right candidate to “stabilize the military establishment and lead the IDF to counter the various challenges it faces.”

Gantz’s main contender for the post was OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who reportedly told Barak to appoint Gantz to the post. Eizenkot will likely take a year off and then return to the IDF to replace Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh as the next deputy chief of staff, making the two of them the main candidates to replace Gantz in three years.

If he is approved by the Turkel Committee and the cabinet, Gantz will take up the post on February 14 in place of Ashkenazi, whose tenure Barak decided not to extend. Barak had initially planned to present a proposal to appoint Naveh as the interim chief of staff, but withdrew the idea after coming under major political and public criticism.

The one obstacle Gantz could face is Galant, whose appointment was nixed last week by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. On Friday, Galant gave a number of interviews on news stations claiming that he still believed he would be the chief of staff.

“When the cabinet meets on Sunday, I think they will consider all of the different parameters and make the right decision,” Galant said on Channel 2.

If the cabinet decides to cancel Galant’s appointment, the former head of the Southern Command could stillappeal to the High Court of Justice and demand that his appointment remain in place.

Vice premier Moshe Ya’alon fiercely attacked Barak’s handling of the appointment of the next IDF chief of General Staff on Saturday, accusing him of harming the country and “losing his mind.”

In an interview on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program, Ya’alon said Barak appointed Galant in a way that was too hasty. He also defended outgoing IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi from Barak’s attacks on him.

“If the situation got to be that bad, why was the cabinet not told so we could decide to fire him?” Ya’alon said. “Barak’s behavior indicates that he is losing his mind by declaring a war on Ashkenazi that does not have a reason I am aware of. Their relationship harms the security of the country.”


Vice premier Silvan Shalom spoke to Barak on Saturday and told him that while he thinks Galant would have been a terrific chief-of-general-staff, he would vote for Ganz, because he believes it is important to appoint a permanent chief for the IDF. He came out against appointing a temporary commander on Thursday.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai said his party would only vote for Ganz if it is clear that his appointment would pass all legal obstacles by the time Ashkenazi’s term ends on February 14. He said that if not, he would ask for Ashkenazi’s term to be extended.

“The stability of the IDF in such troubled times must be above any consideration,” Yishai said.

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara called on Saturday for the formation of an advisory committee that would interview future IDF chiefs and make a recommendation to the cabinet.

Speaking at a conference of former officers, he said that such a committee, which would be made up of retired generals and judges, could stop the politicization of the IDF.


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