(photo credit: IDF)
Two weeks of arguments and deliberations came to an end Wednesday night when Defense Minister Amir Peretz approved Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz's recommendation to appoint Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot the new OC Northern Command.
Eizenkot, currently the head of the IDF Operations Directorate, will replace Maj.-Gen. Udi Adam, who announced his resignation two weeks ago following the IDF's poor showing during the war in Lebanon.
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Halutz and Peretz were at odds over which general to appoint. Halutz initially favored OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, but in the end changed his recommendation to be in concurrence with Peretz's preference to appoint Eizenkot to the prestigious post.
Eizenkot's first challenge will be to restore order within Northern Command in the wake of the war and Adam's resignation. He will need to oversee and direct the complete withdrawal of IDF troops from Lebanon and the new deployment along the Blue Line, Israel's international border with Lebanon.
Sources close to Peretz said the defense minister believed Galant was worthy of the job, but that his appointment and departure from directing operations within the Gaza Strip would be too much for the IDF to handle.
"Galant is an experienced and well-respected officer," one source said. "But Peretz did not believe that now was the time to also begin making changes on Israel's second front in Gaza."
Beginning his military career in the Golani Brigade - which he commanded from 1997-98 - Eizenkot, 46, served as military attach for former prime minister Ehud Barak and was commander of the Judea and Samaria Division. He has a BA in history from Tel Aviv University and attended the US Army and Security course.
Halutz has yet to decide who will replace Eizenkot, but officers said it could be Maj.-Gen. Meir Klifi, deputy OC Ground Forces Command. Additional shake-ups are expected within the General Staff with the imminent resignation of OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh and the scheduled appointment of OC Ground Forces Command Maj.-Gen. Beni Gantz as deputy chief of General Staff.