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
"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
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
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
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.