Israeli Defense Minister Picks Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as Next Military Chief

The appointment of Kochavi, who is deputy chief of staff and a former head of the Northern Command and the intelligence corps, is subject to the approval of the senior appointments committee and the cabinet

Aviv Kochavi
Amos Ben Gershom / GPO

Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman announced on Friday that he is nominating Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi as the next chief of staff of the Israeli army to succeed Gadi Eisenkot.

Lieberman will be formally submitting Kochavi's name to the chairman of the senior government appointments committee, retired Justice Eliezer Goldberg, on Sunday, an announcement from the defense minister's office said. Subject to the committee's approval, Lieberman will then submit the nomination to the cabinet.

The announcement from the defense minister's office stated that he has informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Eisenkot of his choice.

Before Kochavi's appointment as deputy chief of staff, he was commander of the army's Northern Command. During the war with Hamas and its allies in Gaza in 2014, he headed the army's intelligence corps.

"Lieberman chose Maj. Gen. Kochavi after an extensive selection process that included consultations with dozens of people including former prime ministers, defense ministers and chiefs of staff," the statement from the defense minister's office said, adding that Chief of Staff Eisenkot and other current and former officers from the army general staff headquarters were also consulted, some of whom served as commanders of the four candidates for chief of staff.

Netanyahu has not yet publicly commented on the nomination.

Earlier in his career, Kochavi served in all the top posts in the paratroopers brigade, in battles against Hezbollah in Lebanon and during the second intifada in the West Bank. He went on to command the elite airborne division and then the Gaza Division, during the 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip.

At the general staff headquarters, he commanded the Operations Division and then as a major general filled three key positions in quick succession – military intelligence chief, Northern Command chief and deputy chief of staff. He also found time to complete two master's degrees – at Harvard and Johns Hopkins, in the United States.