Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot to Be Named Next IDF Chief of Staff

Official announcement to be made Saturday; Eizenkot will have less than two-and-a-half months to prepare himself for the most sensitive security post of all.

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Gadi Eizenkot. Many top defense officials see him as the most suitable candidate to succeed the chief of staff.
Gadi Eizenkot. Many top defense officials see him as the most suitable candidate to succeed the chief of staff.Credit: Yaron Kaminsky

Israel's Defense Minister's office said Friday that a statement will be released on Saturday evening regarding the identity of the next IDF chief of staff.

Barring any last-minute, earth-shattering change, Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot is expected to be named as the 21st chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.

Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz, the current chief of staff, completes his tenure on February 15.

Prime Minister Benjamin Nentanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon agreed to make the statement on Saturday.

Most of the people whom the minister has consulted - former defense ministers as well as former chiefs of staffs and deputy chiefs - support Maj. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot as the IDF’s next leader. And observers say that Ya’alon himself backs Eisenkot, who is currently deputy chief of staff, for the post.

Netanyahu, who has in the last few months checked out other possibilities – Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Galant and, more recently, Maj. Gen. Yair Golan – is apparently set to adopt Ya’alon’s choice.

The chief of staff-designate will have less than two-and-a-half months (on the assumption that he’s also approved by the cabinet and the Turkel committee, which vets senior appointments, and survives a possible petition to the High Court of Justice) to prepare himself for the most sensitive security post of all.

The question whether Eisenkot was fit to lead the army arose due to his involvement in the so-called Harpaz affair. Two of his close friends, current Mossad chief Tamir Pardo and Col. (ret.) Gabi Siboni, took part in the circulating of a document, which later turned out to be fake, as part of efforts to keep Maj. Gen. (ret.) Yoav Galant from being named chief of staff. Eisenkot was questioned by police on two separate occasions, and was later criticized over the fact that he failed to disclose information during the first questioning.

In a recent interview with Ha’aretz, Ya’alon pledged that the selection process of the chief of staff would be “completely transparent with the required consultations and checks.” He said that “we will present the best choice to the cabinet in November.”

Ya’alon also said last month that Gantz’s successor would come from within the army.

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