Israel approves new army chief

Cabinet confirms general who led Gaza offensive for top job amid allegations he had hired publicist to smear a rival.

    The cabinet's appointment of Galant follows controversy over the circulation of a forged document [AFP]

    The Israeli cabinet has approved the appointment of Major-General Yoav Galant as the new chief of the country's armed forces.

    Galant's endorsement for the military’s top job comes less than two years after he directed the Israel-Gaza war.

    "The government approved [Major General Yoav Galant] appointment as chief of staff for a period of three years, with a possible extension to four years in exceptional circumstances," the prime minister's office said in a statement on Sunday.

    "Yoav Galant has proved himself in the course of 33 years of  service in the front line of the Israel Defence Forces," the  statement quoted Binyamin Netanyahu, the prime minister, as saying.

    The appointment of the successor to Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi, the current army chief who is due to step down in February, will be ratified by Israel's cabinet next week.

    Ehud Barak, the defence minister, announced his nomination last month in the wake of a controversy over the circulation of a forged document aimed at discrediting Galant and kicked off the so-called "war of the generals".

    Back-stabbing

    Allegations that Galant, 51, had hired a publicist to smear a rival candidate for the post have dominated Israeli headlines, which focused on suspicions of back-stabbing in the military's senior ranks.

    Other leading candidates for the job were General Benny Gantz, Ashkenazi's deputy, and Major-General Gadi Eizenkot, head of the army's northern command.

    Galant, as the army's commander for southern Israel, oversaw the December 2008-January 2009 war in Gaza which led to the death of at least 1,400 Palestinians and 13 Israelis.

    He began his service in the navy before switching to the ground forces in the 1990s. Among his senior roles, he served as military attache to Ariel Sharon, Israel's former prime minister.

    He was born in the mixed Arab-Jewish neighbourhood of Jaffa and is married with three children and holds a degree in business and financial management.

    SOURCE: Agencies


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