IDF Chief of Staff, Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, issued an apology Wednesday evening following his confrontation with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu budget meeting the previous day.
"I spoke in the heat of anger, I had no intention to offend the prime minister or any of the ministers. If my
words caused such offense, I regret this and am obligated to apologize," Ashkenazi wrote.
The heated exchange of words occurred when the debate turned to the Treasury's demand to raise the age of retirement for career servicemen.
Ashkenazi, visibly outraged, told Netanyahu that "career officers are not contract laborers" and "do not have a labor union." The prime minister responded that he "(could not accept the claim that the defense establishment can't become more efficient," prompting the army chief to counter: "So don't accept it."
Netanyahu addressed the rare public spat earlier on Wednesday, saying he believed Ashkenazi "spoke from the heart, not out of any malicious intent."
The chief of staff said he felt compelled to clarify the point "because despite the economic situation and the challenges it poses to the government and the Israeli public, the prime minister gave his full backing to
the needs of the defense establishment in light of the threats and challenges Israeli faces on this front."
He also said that the prime minister had made sure the service conditions of career officers and NCOs would not be "arbitrarily" worsened.
Ashkenazi characterized his relationship with the prime minister as "good" and said it was "based on trust, respect, and professional discussion. This has been the case in our working and personal meetings thus far, and it will continue to be this way."