Emergency selection for new IDF chief

By Anshel Pfeffer, February 10, 2011
Benny Gantz: new IDF head

Benny Gantz: new IDF head

The crisis that has been engulfing Israel's political and military establishment since it was announced last week that Major General Yoav Galant would not be appointed IDF's 20th chief of staff may have now abated.

Instead of Maj-Gen Galant, who has been accused of illegal land appropriations, Major General Benny Gantz will be appointed chief of staff on Monday.

Maj-Gen Gantz's appointment, two months after he retired from duty, was decided upon following Attorney General Yehud Weinstein's decision not to defend in court the appointment of Major General Yoav Galant.

The Attorney General reached his decision after a probe by State Comptroller Micah Lindenstrauss over allegations that Maj-Gen Galant had illegally invaded land around his family home on the Carmel ridge.

Following the decision, Defence Minister Ehud Barak initially announced that the current deputy chief of staff, Major General Yair Naveh, would take command of the IDF for a temporary period. However, a number of cabinet ministers criticised the choice and suggested that they may oppose the move, forcing Mr Barak to interview more candidates and choose a permanent chief of staff.

Maj-Gen Gantz, who has spent 33 years in the IDF, served most of his career in the Paratroopers Corps, rising to command the Paratroopers Brigade.

Defence Minister Barak has come under intense criticism for refusing to extend the tenure of the popular present chief of staff, Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, who is widely credited with having overhauled the IDF after the dismal results of the 2006 Second Lebanon War.

Mr Barak, though, insisted on not allowing Lt-Gen Ashkenazi to serve one day beyond the end of his three-year term, explaining last weekend that he had made the decision "for ethical and professional" reasons.

Last updated: 12:45pm, February 10 2011