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Israel Nears Approval of New Army Chief of Staff

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Israeli Defense Minister Yitzhak Mordechai has asked the Cabinet to approve Maj. Gen. Shaul Mofaz as the next army chief of staff.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was said to have favored another candidate, Maj. Gen. Matan Vilnai, who preceded Mofaz as deputy chief of staff of the Israel Defense Force.

The Cabinet statement said both Mofaz and Vilnai were qualified candidates for the position, and that the decisive factor had been the “preference and desire of the defense minister to work with one of them.”

The Cabinet was expected to approve the nomination later this week.

If approved, Mofaz would assume his new responsibilities as Israel’s 16th chief of staff in July, taking over from Lt. Gen. Amnon Shahak.

Mofaz, 50, was born in Iran and came to Israel as a young child. He joined the paratroopers, advancing on to serve in several senior command positions, including brigade commander.

Mofaz was also a member of the elite general staff commando unit.

In 1993 he was appointed commander of IDF forces in the West Bank. A year later, he was named head of the IDF’s southern command. In 1996 he was made head of the planning division of the General Staff, and last year succeeded Vilnai as deputy chief of staff.

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