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The cabinet approved the appointment of Defense Ministry Dir.-Gen. Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi to the post of IDF chief of General Staff on Sunday, and decided that his term will be for four years, rather than three years as has been the case until now.
In the past, chiefs of General Staff served three-year terms, with an option for a fourth. The reason for extending the term, Defense Minister Amir Peretz told the cabinet, was to avoid a situation that occurred in the past where a public debate ensued over whether to extend the chief of General Staff's tenure by another year.
Ashkenazi will serve a four-year term, government sources said, unless his term expires during a war or similar type of crisis situation, in which case it could be extend by up to an additional year.
Ashkenazi will become the IDF's 19th chief of staff, and the first from the Golani Brigade. He is scheduled to be inducted at a ceremony on February 14. He will replace Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz, who resigned last month.
Olmert began Sunday's cabinet meeting by praising Ashkenazi.
"I have no doubt that he will guide the army to be completely ready to deal with its challenges," Olmert said.
"Gabi is an appreciated leader and commander with an impressive army history spanning many years," he added. "I have no doubt that he will lead the army to cope with all that it needs to cope with, to be completely fit to deal with what is essential for the security of the state."