General launches campaign against IDF chief?
Document carrying logo of leading PR office includes recommendations for 'building a positive profile' for Major-General Yoav Galant, 'building a negative profile' for his competitor in chief of staff race and for current IDF Chief Ashkenazi. According to information obtained by Ynet, document may have been forged; PR office denies involvement
A document carrying the logo of the Arad Communications PR office reveals a planned campaign for the appointment of Major-General Yoav Galant as the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, while "building a negative image" for his competitor, Major-General Benny Gantz, and current IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
According to information obtained by Ynet over the past two days, the document may have been forged in a bid to harm Galant's candidacy by presenting him as the person responsible for the document. Another possibility is that senior army officials were aware of the document's existence and had worked to distribute its content in the media.
The document, revealed by Channel 2 news on Friday evening, is undated. It discusses "building a positive image for Major-General Galant" and "a negative image for Benny Gantz," or alternatively, a proposal for Gantz to replace Shin Bet Director Yuval Diskin in order to remove him from the chief of staff race.
The document includes additional recommendations for a round of appointments in the General Staff.
As for Galant's relations with Ashkenazi, a segment in the document discussed ways to "create a crisis and maintain a low profile with the chief of staff. Gabi Ashkenazi's profile as a person who is quickly offended should be developed."
In a conversation with Ynet on Thursday, all leading PR offices in Israel – including Arad Communications – denied being involved in the chief of staff race.
In a response to Channel 2, an Arad Communications representative said the published document was "either a prank or a forgery" and that the office's logo was used without authorization.
Media advisor Eyal Arad of Arad Communications told Ynet on Friday night that the document had been forged and that his office planned to file a complaint with the police.
"I declare that the Arad Communications computers are at the disposal of the investigating bodies and that no court order will be required," he added. "This document did not leave our office – and we have nothing to do with the IDF chief race."
'Many seek to hurt Galant'
According to a military official aware of the heated tensions in the IDF top brass, "The document was forged and this matter must be dealt with seriously." The official added that the resent tension "has caused some people to lose their minds. There are people here who are heating up the atmosphere and forgetting that we are talking about people who are in charge of the State's security and must only deal with that."
Another military official added that "it's hard to assume that Galant would take part in such a thing, but there are many elements inside the system who seek to hurt him."
Major-General Galant is considered one of the main candidates for the role of IDF chief. "There are people who seek to hurt him and there are those who would love to depict him in a problematic light, and therefore it's too early to jump to conclusions," the official added.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak held his first interview with Galant on Friday and is expected to interview the other candidates next week. Sources in the Defense Ministry told Ynet on Friday evening that there was no reason to halt the process, clarifying that the discussed document was irrelevant. They hinted that its publication was part of internal struggles within the army, which would not affect the defense minister's selection process.
Other sources suggested that the document had been initiated by right-wing elements due to Galant's service as former Prime Minister Ariel Sharon's military secretary during the 2005 pullout from Gaza.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report
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