Defense Minister Benny Gantz on Monday told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that he would soon move aggressively to appoint a new IDF chief to avoid the process being held hostage by politics.
Gantz said, “We have a great IDF chief… but he is finishing in six months. To maintain stability, we need to appoint a new IDF chief,” soon as well as to allow that new chief to promptly select his own new IDF deputy chief.
“There are great and professional candidates for the IDF chief position, and I am consulting with the prime minister,” about the appointment.
The defense minister said that, “any attempt to color the decision as political is false and harms the basis of our power. I call on all rivals to leave the IDF outside of the fires of politics.”
"Any attempt to color the decision as political is false and harms the basis of our power"Defense Minister Benny Gantz
He said the IDF would not be in a position where it had to have a “temporary acting chief. I will not let happen to the IDF like what happened to the police for two years” where the politicians could not agree on a new permanent chief and a weaker acting chief ran things on a temporary basis.
The three lead candidates are current IDF deputy chief Maj. Gen. Herzl Halevi, former IDF deputy chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir and former IDF Northern Commander Maj. Gen. Yoel Strick.
Gantz started the process last week, but these were his most comprehensive comments on the issue to date.
Reportedly Halevi is the lead candidate, but some on the Right prefer Zamir, who was helped up the chain of command by Netanyahu when prime minister and who had worked for him as his personal military secretary.
With new elections potentially on the horizon, Gantz may run into some legal obstacles to get the appointment through during a transitional government.
However, by starting the process before the election period starts, he is strengthening his argument that allowing the appointment to go through is just government business as usual, not election politicking.
Gantz also said that he had instructed the defense establishment to respond aggressively to any attack on Israelis whether within Israel or traveling overseas.
He also said that Iran’s failure to resolve IAEA’s questions about its nuclear program showed it is “not a partner” for cutting a new JCPOA nuclear deal.
He called on the US to work with Israel in pressuring Iran on “the diplomatic, economic and military levels.”