GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot 30/08/10 Tomer Appelbaum
GOC Northern Command Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot Photo by Tomer Appelbaum
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Maj. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, whose tenure as GOC Northern Command is likely to end with the departure of outgoing Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, rejected on Sunday an offer from Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Ashkenazi's designated successor, Yoav Galant, to serve as the next deputy chief of staff.

After Barak informed the government last week of his decision to appoint Galant chief of staff, both men tried hard to persuade Eizenkot to remain in active service. To entice him, they offered him the job of deputy chief of staff.

Barak and Galant both felt that tapping Eizenkot, who is one of the IDF's most experienced commanders, as deputy chief of staff would restore a semblance of stability to the army's high command, which is expected to undergo a significant reshuffle when Galant takes office.

Among the generals expected to leave are the current deputy chief of staff, Benny Gantz - who, like Eizenkot, was a candidate to succeed Ashkenazi - and Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin.

Yadlin has set his sights on the post of Mossad chief. He is known to be held in high regard by both Barak and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

Relations between Galant and Eizenkot, which grew increasingly tense as both men vied for the chief of staff position, hit an all-time low when news of the so-called Galant document broke.

Ashkenazi showed the document - a purported plan to promote Galant's candidacy through smear tactics, which police have since determined to be a forgery - to both Eizenkot and Gantz, and all three were convinced the paper was an authentic plan to improve Galant's chances of winning the job by driving another wedge between Barak and Ashkenazi.

Poor relations

But despite the poor relations between the two men, Galant reached out to Eizenkot by offering him the deputy's slot. Several other current and retired defense establishment officials also urged the GOC Northern Command to take up the post. But Eizenkot turned it down.

However, he did say he would remain as GOC Northern Command for as long as required, and it is possible that Barak and Galant will ask him to stay on for the time being.

A spokesman for Barak declined comment. The IDF Spokesman's Office told Haaretz: "Maj. Gen. Eizenkot does not conduct a dialogue with the defense minister through the media."

If Eizenkot adheres to his refusal to serve as deputy chief of staff, that leaves two possible candidates for the post: GOC Central Command Avi Mizrahi and the IDF's attache in Washington, Maj. Gen. Gadi Shamni.