Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz has unexpectedly cut short the term of the army chief of staff, who often criticized the government’s policy as being too harsh toward the Palestinians. The dismissal of Lieutenant-General Moshe Ya’alon was widely criticized because of the approaching Gaza pullout. Cabinet Minister Haim Ramon of the dovish Labor party said a shakeup in the military brass is the last thing Israel needs when it’s facing "one of the most problematic, difficult and complex tests" in its history. Tension between Mofaz and Ya’alon surfaced in 2003 when the army chief accused the defense minister’s tough policies of causing the downfall of then-Palestinian Prime Minister Mahmoud Abbas, who was trying to reform the Palestinian Authority .
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