Committee approves appointment of Herzi Halevi as chief of staff

The cabinet will discuss the appointment of Halevi at a later date.

Major General Herzi Halevi, Commanding Officer of the IDF Southern Command speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021. (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
Major General Herzi Halevi, Commanding Officer of the IDF Southern Command speaks during the conference of the Israeli Television News Company in Jerusalem on March 7, 2021.
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

The Advisory Committee for Senior Appointments in Public Service on Tuesday afternoon approved the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi to the position of IDF chief of staff.

Though the approval paves the way for Halevi to replace current Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kohavi, who is set to retire in January, his candidacy still needs to be brought to the government for approval.

Defense Minister Benny Gantz said he welcomed the approval by the committee and that he would try to hold the vote during the upcoming cabinet meeting this Sunday. He added that Israel is “faced with various challenges” and that the “IDF needs stability” and “continuous force-building and continuous presence with vast experience.”

“I have no doubt that Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi will continue the processes led by Chief of Staff Kohavi and will continue to advance the readiness of the IDF and the defense capabilities of Israel,” Gantz said.

The 54-year-old Halevi was drafted in 1985 into the Paratroopers Brigade and later served in the elite Sayeret Matkal General Staff Reconnaissance Unit before starting to command it in 2001. He replaced the other candidate for the position of chief of staff. Maj.-Gen. Eyal Zamir, as deputy chief of staff after serving as the head of Military Intelligence and the Southern Command.

 IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi addresses the crowd at the ''Operation: Break the wave'' conference. (credit: IDF) IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi addresses the crowd at the ''Operation: Break the wave'' conference. (credit: IDF)

Halevi was tapped by Gantz as the 23rd chief of staff in September.

According to a report in Maariv, the committee, headed by former attorney-general and retired Supreme Court justice Elyakim Rubenstein, all approved Halevi’s appointment except for one member – Prof. Talia Einhorn – who opposed the approval because the appointment was being made during an election period.

Despite the upcoming election, Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara determined that the government could a new chief of staff. Likud lawmakers threatened to replace her if they were voted into power.

On Tuesday, Religious Zionist Party MK Simcha Rothman said that any appointment made by the Lapid government could be revoked.

“No one should receive an automatic certificate of immunity,” he said. “If he is suitable, he will stay. If he is not suitable, he will not stay. Any official, according to the law, can be fired by the government.”

Former IDF chief of staff Lt.-Gen.(ret.) Gadi Eisenkot called the comments “dangerous” and “irresponsible.”

Writing on his Facebook page, Eisenkot said that he was appointed as top IDF officer by the opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu during a transition period and that the IDF should be left out of any political controversies.

“The stability and strength of the IDF come before any political consideration,” he wrote. “The IDF has chosen an excellent chief of staff. Maj.-Gen. Herzi Halevi is a talented and high-quality officer and a most worthy appointment.”

Halevi holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy and business administration from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, and a master’s degree in national resource management from the National Defense College in the United States.

Halevi is a married father of four who lives in the West Bank settlement of Kfar HaOranim.