Barak to meet with Gantz

Top strategist denies planning to promote Galant in race to head IDF.

yoav galant 224.88 (photo credit: IDF)
yoav galant 224.88
(photo credit: IDF)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak plans to interview Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz on Sunday, as part of the selection process for a new IDF Chief of Staff.Barak is continuing to interview candidates, despite a scandal involving a document that was revealed on Channel 2 on Friday night that appeared to indicate that political strategist Eyal Arad was advising OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant in his effort to be chosen as the next IDF chief of General Staff was forged by enemies of Galant or Ehud Barak, political officials alleged on Saturday night.
The document, containing the logo of Arad Communications, proposed a public relations campaign for Galant that would create a positive image for him and negative images for incumbent Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and another potential Ashkenazi replacement, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.- Gen. Benny Gantz.
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It suggests promoting Gantz through the media as a replacement for Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) head Yuval Diskin or Mossad chief Meir Dagan, ways to deal with potential opposition to Galant’s appointment by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, and highlighting differences between Galant and Ashkenazi on Operation Cast Lead.
For Ashkenazi, who is to step down in February, the document’s author advised “developing a profile of a disgruntled [public official],” like former foreign minister David Levy, and as someone who tends to take offense easily. Several newspaper reports already made the Ashkenazi-Levy comparison on Friday morning.
Arad denied any connection to the document and said he would file a complaint with police on Sunday morning alleging forgery. He said that to facilitate the investigation, he would give the police names of possible suspects and full access to his firm’s computer systems and other resources.
“The document is obviously a forgery,” Arad told The Jerusalem Post.
“I have nothing to do with who is going to be the next chief of staff. My acquaintance with the candidates is very scant and I have not been in touch with any of them personally in recent months.”
Arad declined to speculate publicly about who might have forged the document.
“Police can make a short list of people and investigate them,” he said. “This puts a blemish on the selection of the chief of General Staff. It’s important that the public know that the process was not mired by manipulations.”
Politicians speculated behind the scenes about various enemies of Barak and Galant who might have been behind the document. They mentioned a current senior IDF officer who has sparred with Barak, and former Barak aides, as prime suspects.
“There is a gang of people who for the past three years are busy every day with manipulations, cooperating with reporters in character assassination against Ehud Barak,” a source close to Barak said without connection to the Galant document.
Others suspected Rightists, angry at Galant, who was the military aide to prime minister Ariel Sharon during the disengagement from Gaza.
Defense Ministry sources dismissed the possibility that the publication of the document would influence Barak’s decision on choosing a new army chief. The sources said that the document was not relevant and and there was no reason to put a halt to the decision-making process because of it.
Barak met on Friday with Galant as part of the interview process to find a new chief of staff and is expected to meet with Gantz on Sunday morning.
MKs Nachman Shai (Kadima) and Miri Regev (Likud) asked Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Saturday to order the Shin Bet to investigate the Galant document. Shai said the chief of staff appointment “should not be made prematurely at this point,” until the origin and authenticity of the document could be determined.
“This matter must be investigated immediately to lift the cloud hanging over the selection of the chief of General Staff and ensure that it will be transparent,” Shai said.