halutz olmert peretz.
(photo credit: IDF [file])
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert reiterated on Wednesday afternoon his "deep sorrow" over the resignation of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz.
"[Halutz] is one of Israel's greatest soldiers, an outstanding fighter pilot," Olmert said in a statement. Olmert added that Halutz had actually handed in his resignation on Sunday, but asked that it not be announced immediately.
Halutz told the General Staff in a meeting early Wednesday that he had faith in the IDF's capability to continue dealing with threats Israel faced, and said he had no intention to "take [his] stuff and leave in a rush."
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Halutz said he planned to stay in place until a successor was chosen, and the changeover complete.
"I am confident in the IDF, its soldiers, and commanders, and that the military will be able to keep performing successfully all missions as they arrive," Halutz told the General Staff.
Afterwards, Halutz met with Defense Minister Amir Peretz, and it was agreed that he would remain at his post until a replacement was found, the defense ministry said in a statement.
"During the meeting, Peretz expressed appreciation and admiration for the many years that Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz served as a warrior and a commander in the IDF, and the defense minister thanked him for his contribution to the security of Israel," the ministry said.
Peretz said he planned to conduct "an orderly, quick, and responsible selection process, with the full cooperation of Olmert, in order to choose the next chief of staff."
Peretz later called MK Binyamin Netanyahu (Likud) to ask the opposition leader for his input on a potential replacement for Halutz, a Netanyahu spokesperson said Wednesday afternoon.
Security sources said that Peretz would likely present his choice for Halutz's successor to the cabinet's weekly meeting on Sunday.