Gantz Can Nominate New Military Chief Before Election, Israel's Attorney General Says

Citing the 'unique and irregular security challenges currently facing the Israel Defense Forces,' the attorney general does not see a legal hindrance to filling the senior position before Israel's November 1 election

Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit
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Defense Minister Benny Ganz on a tour with General Halevi in the West Bank, in April.
Defense Minister Benny Ganz on a tour with General Halevi in the West Bank, in April.Credit: Elad Malka
Chen Maanit
Chen Maanit

Israel's attorney general said on Thursday that there is no "legal hindrance" for Defense Minister Benny Gantz to elect the next military chief, even though he serves in a caretaker government that will only be replaced with a permanent one after Israel's November 1 election.

In a letter to Gantz, Attorney General Gali Baharav-Miara wrote that although the appointment of the Israel Defense Forces' chief of staff in such a time entails significant legal difficulties, “the concrete circumstances of the matter, and particularly in light of secret professional-security opinions laid before her, pertaining to unique and irregular security challenges currently facing the IDF, and having examined the totality of circumstances along with relevant professionals, the attorney general has concluded that these difficulties do not amount to a legal hindrance.”

Gantz welcomed Baharav-Miara's statement, saying that "The appointment of a chief of staff on time and in an orderly process is of great importance."

"I will continue to conduct the process in an orderly manner, free from any political considerations, and in consultation with all relevant parties," the minister added.

Over the next two weeks, Gantz is scheduled to hold another meeting with the three candidates for the position, and will then discuss the topic with Prime Minister Yair Lapid and opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu.

After those meetings, Gantz will submit his pick to Israel's committee on senior appointments. Once approved by the panel, the next chief of staff will be announced.

Baharav-Miara referred to the matter last week, saying that “the decision will be made without external influence, and for solely professional reasons.” The comments were made against a backdrop of threats by Likud MKs, who warned that should the attorney general permit the appointment of a Chief of Staff during the election period, she will be replaced when their party returns to power.

Gantz has held meetings over recent weeks with the three main contenders for the job: Deputy Chief of Staff, Major-General Hertzi Halevi, Major-General Eyal Zamir, and Major-General Yoel Stark. According to most estimates, Gantz seeks to appoint Halevi to the position.

Defense Minister Gantz announced last month that he planned to continue the process of appointing a new chief of staff despite the government’s collapse.

MK Shlomo Karhi of the Likud said July 4 that "Senior officials appointed by a government that is the antithesis of [Likud's] government are officials promoting a certain agenda and a different worldview. So the default is that they need to be replaced."

Speaking at a conference at Tel Aviv University, Baharav-Miara said that the recent backlash will not deter her and that "it is not possible" to halt governmental activity.

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