Cabinet approves appointment of Aviv Kochavi as new IDF chief of staff

After Netanyahu reportedly asked Liberman to wait until he returned to Israel, he then yelled at him and threatened not to take the nomination to a cabinet vote.

November 25, 2018 11:30
2 minute read.
Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a meeting

Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi (L) shakes hands with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (R) during a meeting, October 29, 2018. (photo credit: KOBI GIDEON/GPO)


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Israel’s cabinet has approved the recommendation of Maj.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi as the 22nd chief of staff of the IDF on Sunday, replacing Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eisenkot.

“Kochavi is full of wisdom and I am sure he will raise the IDF to new heights,” Prime Minister and Defense Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said at the start of the cabinet meeting.

According to Netanyahu in light of a request by both Eisenkot and Kochavi for a few weeks of overlap, Eisenkot’s resignation will be postponed until January 15. Eisenkot was supposed to retire January 1 after close to four years as chief of staff.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked congratulated Kochavi on his appointment, calling him an “unwavering fighter, worthy of the position of chief of staff during this sensitive period.”

Calling Kochavi a “daring fighter and outstanding commander,” Housing Minister and former IDF Southern commander Yoav Gallant congratulated Kochavi on Sunday, writing on his Facebook page that he “is among the best and brightest of IDF commanders in the past generation,” and is “the right person at the right time.”

Earlier in the day, Army Radio reported that Netanyahu shouted at then-defense minister Avigdor Liberman when he was told that he would be recommending Kochavi as the next IDF chief of staff.

According to the report, Liberman called Netanyahu – who was on a then-unreported trip to Oman – to inform him that he was planning to announce that he would be nominating Kochavi for the military’s top position, knowing that the prime minister preferred Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir for the role.

After Netanyahu reportedly asked Liberman to wait until he returned to Israel, he then yelled at him and threatened not to take the nomination to a cabinet vote.

Liberman ignored the prime minister’s threat and announced that he had chosen Kochavi to become the military’s 22nd chief of staff. It took several hours before the prime minister’s office issued a statement congratulating Kochavi.

Last week, Netanyahu, who has taken on the role of defense minister following Liberman’s resignation two weeks ago, approved the appointment of Zamir as deputy chief of staff of the IDF.

Born in 1964, Kochavi enlisted in the Paratroopers Brigade in 1982 and has served in multiple command roles throughout his career.
He served as Eastern Division Commander of the Lebanon Liaison Unit from 1998 to 1999, and as Commander of the Paratrooper Brigade from 2001 to 2003, where he commanded troops against troops against Palestinian terrorists in the West Bank during the Second Intifada. He also commanded the IDF’s elite airborne division before serving as Commander of the Gaza Division from 2004 to 2006.

He also held several key positions in the General Staff, commanding the Operations Division, head of Military Intelligence (2010-2014), head of the Northern Command and then as deputy chief of staff under Eisenkot.

Kochavi has a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University and a master’s degree from the Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland.

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