Barak names Chief of Staff for scandal-hit Israeli Army
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Last Updated: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 19:22
Jerusalem: Ending weeks of speculation, Israeli Defence Minister Ehud Barak on Sunday nominated Maj Gen Yoav Galant to replace Gabi Ashkenazi as the next Chief of Staff, after an inquiry cleared his name in a possible smear campaign against his rivals.

Barak said he would ask the cabinet to approve the appointment at its weekly meeting on August 29, saying he had consulted Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu before making his final decision on the replacement for Ashkenazi.

As head of the southern command, Maj Gen Yoav Galant had led the December 2008-January 2009 offensive in the Gaza Strip in which as many as 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis were killed.

"Galant is an experienced officer with varied operational experience, leadership skills and the ability to lead the Israel Defence Forces (IDF) in the challenges it and the State of Israel face,” the Defence Minister said.

Commenting on the appointment, Netanyahu said "this is the correct choice, that will return stability to the army".

The selection would end a period of uncertainty that had damaged the IDF, the Premier said in an apparent reference to the storm over the 'Galant document', which dominated headlines in Israel in weeks preceding Barack's declaration of choice.

Leaked to Channel 2 television from inside the military, the document bore the logo of a well known public relations adviser, Eyal Arad, and outlined a plan for Galant to smear rivals to promote his candidacy for the post of army chief.

Police now believe it to be a fake.

Barak has urged the other candidates who were considered for the position to continue but local media reports said that it was unlikely.

Ashkenazi won praise from Barak for his services and promises of complete support till the end of his term in February, however, the Defense Minister has been unable to mask growing tensions in his relationship with his Chief of Staff.

Netanyahu and Barak blamed the IDF for the deadly incident onboard a Gaza-bound Turkish ship in which nine pro-Palestinian activists were killed, to which Ashkenazi accepted responsibility but countered some of the claims of the political leadership as incorrect.

Galant has served in the past as the Military Attache of then Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, head of the Gaza Formation and head of the Naval Commando Unit.


First Published: Sunday, August 22, 2010, 19:22

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