Gadi Eizenkot Sept. 19, 2010 Jalla Marai
Gadi Eizenkot Photo by Jalla Marai
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GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot on Thursday rejected, for a third time, an offer from Defense Minister Ehud Barak to serve as the next head of Military Intelligence. Eizenkot's negative response was received just a few hours before Barak announced the appointment of Aviv Kochavi, the former head of the General Staff Operations Directorate, to the post.

Despite the scandal caused by the so-called Galant document affair - in which two close associates of Eizenkot were involved in passing a forged document to the media - Barak is reportedly keen on the current GOC Northern Command remaining in the General Staff.

Barak's offer had also been accepted by the outgoing IDF chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, as well as his designated replacement, Yoav Galant. Barak reportedly offered Eizenkot two options - head of MI or deputy chief of staff under Galant - both of which he refused. Eizenkot said he would rather remain in charge of Northern Command given the tenuous security situation on the Syrian and Lebanese borders.

Despite a number of media reports to the contrary, Eizenkot has not tried to wring a commitment from either Barak or Galant that he would be the latter's only deputy. Eizenkot's snub reportedly stems from his reluctance to work under Galant, at least until the inquiry into the Galant document concludes and definitively proves that he played no part in the campaign to discredit rivals and secure the position of army chief.

Ashkenazi, Eizenkot and a number of other top brass believe that despite police findings that Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz - the reserve officer who admitted to forging the Galant document - acted alone, the document contains a number of indications that someone in Barak's circle may have been involved as well.

Ultimately, it was Eizenkot's intransigence that paved the way for Kochavi's appointment. Kochavi will replace Amos Yadlin, the veteran major general leaving the army in just a few months.

The officer who will serve as Galant's deputy remains unknown. One option Barak and the incoming IDF chief are considering is returning a major general from the reserves to active duty to fill the position. Among the leading candidates in that scenario is Yair Naveh, the former GOC Central Command who now heads the light rail project in Jerusalem.

Candidates still in active service include Air Force commander Ido Nechushtan and Gadi Shamni, the IDF attache in Washington.