IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant, Defense Minister Ehud Barak
IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi (left), Defense Minister Ehud Barak (center), GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant Photo by Tomer Appelbaum, Moti Kimche, Alon Ron
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The chairman of the Knesset's security committee on Wednesday called an emergency session to debate a growing storm over the race to be the next army chief amid allegations of forgery and smear tactics at the top of the Israel Defense Forces.

MK Tzachi Hanegbi, chairman of the parliamentary Security and Foreign Affairs Committee and a member of the opposition Kadima party, ordered the unscheduled debate for Sunday to address growing tensions within the defense establishment.

The move follows revelations on Tuesday night that the IDF Chief of Staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, had seen over six weeks ago a document outlining a plan by a candidate to replace him to smear rivals for the post.

Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant, whose name appears on the document, says it was forged. Police, who only became aware of the document when it was exposed by Channel 2 television on August 6, say they have evidence to support his claim.

The paper bears the logo of Arad Communications, whose owner, Eyal Arad, sparked the police inquiry when he lodged a complaint over the alleged forgery.

Dozens of people, including senior soldiers, have since given statements to investigators, who are now expected to begin interviewing suspects under caution.

After questioning and giving polygraph tests to senior Arad Communications employees, police now believe they were not involved in creating the document. Some junior staff members have yet to speak to police, but are not considered main suspects.

While Ashkenazi is not suspected of any criminal offense, he has come under fire for failing to hand immediately to police a document that seems to suggest a conspiracy to cause a rift between him and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Earlier Wednesday, Haaretz writer and commentator Amos Harel wrote: "My knowledge of Ashkenazi’s boundless distrust of Barak, as well as the relationship between the defense minister’s bureau and Galant, leads me to believe that it’s likely that the chief of staff mistakenly believed that the document was genuine."

Ashkenazi's decision not to pass the document to Barak points to deteriorating relations between the defense ministry and the IDF, Harel wrote.