Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz are expected to announce the nomination of Maj.-General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi to be the next Chief of Staff of the Israeli Defense Forces, replacing Dan Halutz who announced his resignation last week.
The imminent decision to nominate Ashkenazi, who serves currently as Director-General of the Defense Ministry, is expected to be made because the second candidate for the position, Maj-General Moshe Kaplinski, announced he will not be seeking the post.
In a letter given to Defense Minster Peretz, Kaplinski wrote that due to the fact that the Winograd Commission investigating the failures of the war in Lebanon has not yet finished its work and because he was directly involved with the war, it would not be appropriate for him to take the position.
Ashkenazi, 52, would be the first chief of staff from the Golani infantry division where he began his service as a foot soldier. He will be the 19th chief of staff and the first ever to take the post after retiring from service.
Prime Minister Olmert said during the cabinet meeting that he has no doubt that the government and the public will find the appropriate way to thank Lt.-General Halutz for his service.
"In the name of all the cabinet members I send him a warm embrace and deep appreciation," Olmert said. "Halutz is a model person who served Israel with dedication and sacrifice like no other," he concluded.