gaby ashkenazi 298.88.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz bid farewell to the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Tuesday, one day before he prepared to hand over his uniform to Maj.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi.
"Although I will no longer be in this uniform, I will still find a way to contribute to the state," Halutz told the committee. He added that although he had not yet decided what he would be doing next, it would undoubtedly involve service to the state.
"I thank you for the privilege given to me as head of the army. The final message I wish to send is that a strong army is essential for a strong Israel, and this is the flag that always needs to be raised above all others," he said.
On a controversial note, Halutz was reported to have said: "The worst thing that could happen to a leader is that his No. 2 man stabs him in the back." It was not clear as to what Halutz was specifically referring, however attendees interpreted him as referring to the criticism he received from some, including the military echelon, Army Radio reported. He said however that he has no regrets about his decision.
At the farewell session, Committee chairman Tzahi Hanegbi (Kadima) presented Halutz with a plaque and thanked him warmly on behalf of the committee.
MK Zvi Hendel (National Union), however, interrupted Hanegbi's speech saying, "Should we also remind him of the gift that we tried to give him at Gush Katif?" referring to the protests which occurred prior to the disengagement.
Former Mossad chief Danny Yatom then added: "You should give those gifts to Arik [former PM Ariel Sharon]. You can put them on his grave."
Likud MK Yuval Steinitz broke up the discussion saying: "Not now, this is not the place."
Ashkenazi is to be inducted as the IDF's 19th chief of staff, and the first from the Golani Brigade, in a ceremony on Wednesday.