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(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Continuing his introductory tour of the defense establishment, Defense Minister Amir Peretz met on Wednesday with the ministry's senior staff and denied rumors he planned to replace senior officials.
Peretz has used the past week to calm fears within the IDF and the defense establishment. In a Monday meeting with the General Staff, he called himself the IDF's "defensive shield," while vowing to defend the army from planned cuts to its multi-billion shekel budget.
"You are true partners," Peretz told the senior Defense Ministry staff, which included Director-General Ya'acov Toren and Maj.-Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, director of the Political-Military Bureau. "Our chance of succeeding in our various missions depends on cooperation, and our ability to maintain stability."
Rumors had circulated in the weeks leading up to Peretz's appointment that he would fire Toren and replace the former CEO of Elbit Systems Electro-Optics with an ex-general. But according to senior defense officials and based on Peretz's soothing declarations on Wednesday, it seemed that Toren did not have to worry about losing his job for the time being.
"I am here to get to know you, and to contribute, not detract," Peretz told Toren and the other department heads. "I have no intention to give up on the relationship between the administration and the workers. On the contrary, I plan to strengthen it."
One change Peretz has already made was the appointment of Brig.-Gen. (res.) Mike Herzog, brother of Tourism Minister Isaac Herzog, to be his chief of staff. Herzog, currently a fellow at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, will take up the post in August.
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