Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz have officially decided Monday evening to nominate Maj.-General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi as Israel Defense Forces 19th Chief of Staff replacing Lt.-General Dan Halutz who announced his resignation last week.
According to “Basic Law: The Military,” the Defense Minister will present Ashkenazi’s nomination to an independent review committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice Yaakov Tirkel, before presenting the nomination to the cabinet for their approval.
Since Halutz announced his resignation last week, PM Olmert has conducted discussions with several prominent political and security officials including former Prime Ministers Barak and Netanyahu, former defense ministers, the foreign minister and former IDF chiefs of staff, in order to gauge their thoughts about each nominee. Olmert himself also conducted interviews for the position with several candidates.
During their meeting Monday night, Defense Minister Peretz told PM Olmert he is officially recommending Ashkenazi for the position. Olmert agreed with Peretz and said he supports Ashkenazi as well, and both expressed their confidence in Ashkenazi’s ability to lead the army and to implement the lessons of the Lebanon war.
Olmert and Peretz also praised the two other candidates for the job, Maj-Generals Kaplinski and Ganz, and said they are both worthy candidates.
Both Olmert and Peretz asked Kaplinski to remain in his position as Deputy Chief of Staff, after speculations he is planning to retire if not selected for the position.