Paz-Pines pans IDF chief appointment

Says pre-Winograd decision by Olmert, Peretz may be illegitimate.

Labor leadership candidate Ophir Paz-Pines criticized incumbent party head Amir Peretz and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday for appointing a new IDF chief of General Staff before the interim results of the Winograd Commission were due to be released next month. Paz-Pines questioned the legitimacy of Olmert and Peretz making such a decision, bypassing the commission that could sanction them and incoming chief of staff Gaby Ashkenazi. "Ashkenazi is fitting to be CGS and everyone hopes he will know how to rehabilitate the IDF's deterrence and its crisis of confidence," Paz-Pines said. "But I hope the fact that the prime minister and defense minister hurried to appoint a CGS without waiting for the Winograd Commission will not cause additional unnecessary shockwaves in the IDF." In their meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in which they made the final decision on Ashkenazi's appointment, Olmert and Peretz did not discuss potential appointments to vacancies in the cabinet. Peretz's spokesman said he had not backed down from his ultimatum to convene Labor's institutions to vote on leaving the coalition if MK Ghaleb Majadle is not appointed science, culture and sport minister by Sunday. They pointed out that Labor's executive committee is set to meet in Ramat Efal on Thursday. Sources close to Olmert said there was little chance of the appointment happening next week, because the prime minister had ruled out a cabinet vote on ministerial vacancies before the CGS's appointment was approved. Olmert's associates said Ashkenazi's appointment would not come to the cabinet on Sunday because it must first be approved by an oversight committee led by retired judge Ya'acov Turkel. They said a similar committee took 12 days to approve the appointment of Ashkenazi's predecessor, Dan Halutz. The Turkel Committee taking just as long would allow Olmert to stall before a cabinet reshuffle that he wanted to carry out only after the January 31 verdict in former justice minister Haim Ramon's trial.