Gantz set to question IDF officials who bypassed him to talk to PM

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is inquiring into why IDF officials formed a direct line of contact with the Prime Minister without informing him first.

 AN UNHAPPY Benny Gantz talking with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett (photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)
AN UNHAPPY Benny Gantz talking with Prime Minister Naftali Bennett
(photo credit: YONATAN SINDEL/FLASH90)

Defense Minister Benny Gantz is set to question IDF Chief of Staff Aviv Kohavi and Commander of Southern Command Eliezer Toledano to clarify why Toledano had direct discussions with Prime Minister Naftali Bennet's foreign policy adviser, Shimrit Meir, without notifying Gantz, according to Haaretz.

Kohavi was aware of the discussions, but Toledano did not coordinate with or notify Gantz's office about the meetings as is required of him, as all meetings between the political echelon and senior officers must be approved by the Defense Ministry.

Haaretz first reported about Toledano's meetings with Meir in August. The two discussed foreign policy and security issuess, including agreements with Gaza and the manner in which the Qatari money would be transferred for Hamas workers in Gaza. According to the report, Gantz is concerned that Kohavi allowed the prime minister to create a direct line to IDF officials behind his back.

The IDF Spokesperson's Unit told Haaretz in response that the discussions had received the approval of the chief of staff as required, although sources connected to Gantz said the defense minister needed to be updated as well.

The Prime Minister's Office told Haaretz that the discussions had received the required approval and that it did not know of any other procedure on the matter.

In August, Gantz and Bennett clashed after the defense minister met with Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas. Bennett did give his consent to the meeting, but insisted after the meeting that there are no plans to hold peace negotiations with the Palestinians.

Bennett's associates saw the meeting as an attempt to anger both the Right and the Left inside the government and bring Gantz to power.

Bennett and Gantz held a particularly intense meeting after the incident in which each accused the other of character assassination.

Gil Hoffman contributed to this report.