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Monday, February 7, 2011     INTELLIGENCE BRIEFING

Israel appoints Gen. Benny Gantz as chief of staff

TEL AVIV — Israel has appointed another nominee for its military chief.
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    Defense Minister Ehud Barak has appointed Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz as Israel's next chief of staff, Middle East Newsline reported. The appointment came after the rejection of the last nominee, Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, accused of improprieties.

    "The stability of the Israel Defense Forces is always important, but it is much more important now given the deep shocks in our region," Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said on Feb. 6. "The IDF needs stability. Therefore, over the weekend, I determined, along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to decide regarding the appointment of the next IDF chief of staff."

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    Gantz, a former deputy CoS, had been a candidate for the position of chief of staff last year. But Barak named Galant as the one who would replace the incumbent, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, scheduled to step down on Feb. 14.

    Officials said Gantz, 52, would be vetted by a state committee. They said Barak had also considered Northern Command chief Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, expected to become the next deputy chief of staff. The current deputy is Maj. Gen. Yair Naveh.

    Many in the Cabinet urged Netanyahu to overrule Barak and retain Ashkenazi for another year. But the prime minister acknowledged that Barak and Ashkenazi could no longer work together.

    On Feb. 6, the Cabinet canceled the nomination of Galant, who plans to appeal the decision to Israel's High Court. Several ministers criticized Barak for refusing to extend Ashkenazi's term.

    "If the situation got to be that bad, why was the Cabinet not told so we could decide to fire him?” Vice Premier Moshe Ya'alon asked. "Barak's behavior indicates that he is losing his mind by declaring a war on Ashkenazi, for which there is no reason. Their relationship harms the security of the country."

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