Barak McCool 248 88 aj.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Backstabbing and politicking appear to be the norm these days in Defense Minister Ehud Barak's office, amid a wave of senior personnel changes and as contradictory news reports emerge regarding future dismissals of some members of his senior staff.
Earlier this week, Barak's bureau chief Shalom Kital asked to leave Barak's office after the defense minister decided to appoint an old crony of his, Yoni Koren, to Kital's position.
The bureau chief before Kital was Brig.-Gen. Mike Herzog, brother of Welfare Minister Yitzhak Herzog, who is currently serving as a diplomatic advisor to Barak and waiting to see if he will be promoted by Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi.
Koren, a lieutenant-colonel in the reserves, served as Barak's bureau chief when he was chief of General Staff and foreign minister.
On Tuesday night, senior defense officials told The Jerusalem Post that Barak had also decided to replace Amos Gilad, the longtime head of the Diplomatic-Security Bureau, amid reports that Gilad was planning to resign.
Until this week, Gilad had also served for the past year as the temporary Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories after Barak dragged his feet on appointing a replacement for the last coordinator, Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yosef Mishlav.
Several months ago, Barak finally appointed his military secretary, Brig.-Gen. Eitan Dangot, as coordinator, but he will only take up the post on Thursday after it took Barak another few months to appoint a replacement for Dangot, named this week as former Artillery Corps chief Brig.-Gen. Michel Ben-Baruch.
In private discussions, Gilad said Wednesday that he was unaware of any plans to replace him and that he did not plan to resign. As head of the Diplomatic-Security Bureau, Gilad serves as one of the key advisers to the defense minister and prime minister on diplomatic and defense-related issues. He also served in the past as Israel's point man in negotiations with Hamas for the release of Gilad Schalit.
Barak's media adviser Barak Seri also issued a statement saying that Barak did not currently plan to replace Gilad, who has been in his post since 2003 and has served under three ministers - Shaul Mofaz, Amir Peretz and Barak.
One senior official, though, said that it was possible that Barak was leaking reports about Gilad's resignation to the press to lay the groundwork for his future dismissal.
"Barak is looking to purge everyone in the office who he thinks is taking credit for his work," the official said. "Gilad's resignation, though, would be a great loss to the defense establishment."
There have also been rumors about the future of Defense Ministry Director-General Pinhas Buchris, with some officials claiming that he plans to leave his post in the next few months due to tension with Barak.
While associates of Buchris have claimed that he does not plan on leaving his post at least until the middle of next year, some defense officials have said that Barak is already looking for a replacement.