Barak taps Benny Gantz as Israel’s new military chief


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak recommended the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the military’s new chief of staff after his original appointee was dropped.

Barak and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu made the recommendation Sunday during the regular weekly Cabinet meeting. Gantz’s nomination replaces that of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, who had been set to succeed Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi later this month.

Galant’s nomination to head the Israel Defense Forces was officially rescinded by the Cabinet Sunday following a personal real estate scandal.

The recommendation of Gantz will be passed along to the Turkel Committee for approval before it is sent to the government for final approval. Ashkenazi is set to step down Feb. 14.

"The stability of the IDF is always important, but it is much more important now given the deep shocks in our region. The IDF needs stability," Netanyahu told the Cabinet Sunday in explaining why he and Barak had put forward a new candidate so quickly.

"I would like to express appreciation for Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, a seasoned fighter with experience, who contributed greatly to the security of the state. I know that he has undergone not simple experiences in recent months, and I also understand the depth of his disappointment, the Israeli leader said. "This is natural; this is human. But in the circumstances that have been created, my duty as Prime Minister is to make clear decisions in order to lift the cloud of uncertainty from the IDF senior command."

A paratroop commander, Gantz has served as commander of the liaison unit with Lebanon and of several divisions, as well as a military attache in the United States.

An appeal filed by Galant with Israel’s Supreme Court requesting that the court issue an interim order freezing the chief of staff appointment process was rejected Sunday by the court before the Cabinet voted to formally withdraw Galant’s name from consideration.

Galant’s appointment was approved in September after Ashkenazi was not asked to extend his four-year term by an additional year, as is traditional.

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