On Feb. 1, the government decided to appoint Deputy Chief of Staff Maj.
Gen. Yair Naveh as interim military chief, Middle East Newsline reported. Officials said Naveh was expected
to fill the post for at least 60 days until an investigation of Galant's
alleged land grab was completed or another candidate was found.
However, the Naveh appointment has not been submitted to the Cabinet amid
widespread opposition. Several ministers have called for Ashkenazi to
continue in the post.
Officials said Netanyahu sought to extend the term of Ashkenazi,
scheduled to leave on Feb. 14. But they said Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
regarded as a longtime rival of Ashkenazi, rejected the proposal.
"There are ethical, normative and even professional interests here of
the highest order," Barak, explaining his rejection of Galant, said on Feb.
Galant has been under investigation from the office of the State
Comptroller for seizing land around his home in southern Israel. Attorney
General Yehuda Weinstein said he could not defend Galant against these
"It is no secret that various groups joined in order to prevent his
appointment as chief of staff," Galant said in his petition to Israel's High
Parliamentarians have expressed concern over the vacuum within the
military's General Staff. They said Israel could not afford an interim chief
of staff amid rising tension with Egypt, Gaza Strip, Lebanon and Syria.
"The defense minister's decision undermines Israel's security, and all
because of the personal obsession of somebody who decided not to extend
Ashkenazi's term due to irrelevant considerations," former Defense Minister
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer said.
Former Deputy Defense Minister Ephraim Sneh has called for Israel to
retake the area along the Gaza Strip border with Egypt as well as expand the
size of the military. Sneh warned that such an Israeli operation could block
the flow of Iranian missiles and other weapons to the Hamas regime.
"If this is not done the military strength of Hamas in Gaza, that is
already intolerable, will increase," Sneh said. "The cost of taking over the
Philadelphi Corridor [Gaza-Egypt border] is less than the unavoidable price
of dealing with Hamas in the future in the Gaza Strip after it is reinforced
with sophisticated weapons and instructors from Iran."