Benny Ganz - Ilan Assayag
Major General Benny Ganz: Potential IDF chief of staff candidate Photo by Ilan Assayag
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Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak said on Friday that they may announce a candidate of their choice for the position of Israel Defense Forces chief of staff as early as Sunday.

Major General Yoav Galant was meant to assume the position of IDF chief this month, however, he was disqualified for the position on Tuesday due to allegations against him regarding the seizure of public land near his home in Moshav Amikam. This has led to a scramble to find a new candidate for the position.

The initial plan had been to send a list of possible chief of staff candidates to the Turkel Committee to select the most appropriate chief, with Major General (res.) Yair Naveh, the appointed deputy chief of staff, acting as interim chief. The two expected nominees for the position are Major General Benny Ganz and Major General Gadi Eizenkot. Popular opinion in the security establishment is that Ganz is the preferred candidate.

Galant, however, has not given up on becoming chief, and has asked to be put on the list as a potential candidate. In televised interviews Friday, Galant repeated his claim that he was unjustly disqualified and that he wasn't given sufficient opportunity to defend himself from the allegations against him.

The appointment of Ganz is considered a more practical one, because it will not necessitate any drastic changes in the IDF executive hierarchy. Naveh will remain deputy chief of staff, Eizenkot will continue to serve as GOC Northern Command and Ganz himself, who has already been deputy chief in the past and is on leave, can assume the role relatively easily.

This smooth and near immediate transition makes the selection of Ganz exponentially more attractive to Netanyahu. However, many high ranking IDF members and members of cabinet have endorsed Eizenkot, claiming he is a more qualified candidate.

After the failure of Galant's appointment, the prime minister has taken a significantly more active role in the selection process to ensure no further mishap. If he does indeed endorse a candidate on Sunday, the name will be passed on to the Turkel Committee for final approval. The approval process will be expedited, particularly in light of Barak's declaration that current Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi must vacate his position no later than Monday, February 14.

In the event that the committee does not reach a decision by Barak's deadline, the candidate endorsed by Netanyahu may be appointed interim chief of staff until they submit final approval, at which point the candidate will assume the role of IDF chief officially.