Tension between Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi hit a new high point on Thursday as Barak began interviewing candidates to replace Ashkenazi who still has six months left to his term.
Military sources close to Ashkenazi said that Barak’s decision to start the process so early and to announce the next chief of staff by the end of the month was a ploy to force the chief of staff into early retirement. The sources said that Ashkenazi did not plan to play into Barak’s ploy and would remain at the IDF’s helm until the end of his term. Relations between the two have been sour for over a year due to professional disagreements and Barak’s fear that Ashkenazi will enter politics following his retirement from the IDF. Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu, the IDF Spokesman, is for example a persona non grata in the Defense Ministry due to his bad ties with Barak’s bureau chief Yoni Koren.