On the backdrop of the intensive talks surrounding a potential prisoner swap deal in exchange for captured Israeli soldier Gilad Shalit, a noted members of the military-political complex criticized Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi for his conduct during talks. The prime minister and the defense minister, on the other hand, have come out with public support for the IDF commander.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued statements on Tuesday in support of Maj. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi after anonymous members of the Prime Minister's Office blatantly attacked the chief of staff's position during discussions on the Shalit swap deal, saying he "is acting like the chairman of the soldiers' parents' association."
Yedioth Ahronoth reported Tuesday that Ashkenazi withstood scathing criticism on Monday from a senior PMO official, who said that the chief of staff has failed in his position as the military's commander and that he was behaving like "the chairman of the soldiers' parents' association and not as one would expect from the senior-most commander of the military."
The chief of staff has for many months expressed his support for the Shalit swap deal. He took part in some of the meetings of the forum of seven senior ministers on the deal, and showed his support there, too, for the swap deal.
The Prime Minister's Office issued a statement: "The prime minister appreciates the actions of Maj. Gen. Ashkenazi in leading the IDF and his position regarding returning Gilad Shalit alive and well. The chief of staff's position stems clearly and unequivocally from a sincere concern for the security of Israel, as do the positions of all members of the consultation forum."
The Defense Ministry also issued a statement in support of the chief of staff, saying that it rejects "with disgust" any denunciation of Ashkenazi regarding his conduct on the Shalit deal.
"Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi is an esteemed fighter and commander. His positions are in accord with the IDF's values. Attacks against him on the part of the said official are worthy of all condemnation," the statement said.
Gilad Shalit was kidnapped into the Gaza Strip 1,276 days ago.