Will Barak come to Ashkenazi’s farewell party?

February 13, 2011 03:12

Outgoing chief of general staff to bid farewell to IDF today at a festive ceremony with thousands of guests.

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Ehud Barak and Gabi Ashkenazi

barak ashkenazi 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson)

The IDF will bid farewell to Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Sunday during a festive ceremony at Tel Aviv University but the main question is whether Defense Minister Ehud Barak will be in attendance.

Thousands of guests from the Israeli political, defense and business sectors will attend the event – including chairman of the Joint Chiefs of the United States Adm. Michael Mullen, who is arriving specially in Israel on Sunday to send off Ashkenazi.

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Mullen will come to Israel from Jordan, where he will meet with King Abdullah II and other senior officials. Jordan has been the scene of weeks of protests inspired by the recent unrest in Tunisia and Egypt.

Mullen’s schedule for Israel includes talks with Ashkenazi, his successor Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz – whose appointment is scheduled to be approved by the cabinet on Sunday – as well as with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. Mullen is not expected to visit Egypt.

Ashkenazi and Mullen have met close to 20 times over the past four years, and next week’s visit will be Mullen’s fifth trip to Israel.

Barak and Ashkenazi’s relationship hit an unprecedented low earlier this month after the defense minister said in interviews that the chief of staff had “normative, ethical and professional flaws.” Despite Barak’s unprecedented accusations against a sitting chief of staff, Ashkenazi said last week that, as long as he is in uniform, he would not respond to the allegations.

The defense minister’s spokesman Barak Seri said that he was not aware what the defense minister’s plans would be for Sunday evening.

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