Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed the cabinet meeting on Sunday that he had chosen Southern Command Chief Yoav Galant to serve as the next chief of staff.
Barak will bring the decision for authorization in the cabinet after he consults with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
"Because of the current state of affairs, the appointment must be made quickly in order to reinstate stability within the IDF," said Barak.
Minister Moshe Ya'alon asked Barak what the rush is, but the other ministers with a rich military past, namely Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer and Minister, Yossi Peled, expressed their support for the decision.
Prime Minister Netanyahu praised the decision during the cabinet meeting. "This is the wise move because uncertainty exacts a high price. The situation created necessitates a speedy decision that can move forward the next round of appointments in the IDF. This is a good move that will bring back stability to the military's echelons," he said.
A statement issued by Barak's office stated, "The minister completed in recent days a round of talks with the five candidates for chief of staff, including Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz, Central Command Chief Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, Northern Command Chief Gadi Eizenkot, and the military attaché in Washington Gadi Shamni. The minister expressed his esteem for each one of the candidates as asked them to remain in the IDF and continue contributing to it. He added that the decision between candidates was not easy because each of them is worthy."
Barak described Galant as "a vetern officer with diverse and rich operational experience, proven leadership qualities, and the capability to lead the IDF through the challenges facing it and the State of Israel."
Barak called up President Shimon Peres to notify him of the decision. Peres' office responded, "This is the most fitting appointment."
Minister Ya'alon asserted that the damage caused by such an appointment outweighs its benefits.
Ya'alon, a former chief of staff himself, suggested that the decision not be brought for the cabinet's authorization next week because he believes it was made to hastily as not all the facts have come to light in the Galant document affair, especially regarding the role of various high-ranking generals, including Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
Ashkenazi keeping mum
It is believed that Ashkenazi did all in his power to hold up the appointment process. Despite this, he wished Galant success in his new role. However, the IDF Spokesperson's Unit said Ashkenazi promised Galant "all help and support in the important role he is taking on in another few months."
"This will be a complex period," predicted a senior officer in a conversation with Ynet. "There are tense relations between the two, but we haven't yet digested the implications of the document scandal either, and already is a new chief of staff."
Since the announcement was made, Ashkenazi's camp has preferred to keep quiet regarding the chief of staff's position on his new replacement. However, estimates are that he is not overly enthused by the fact that the decision was made before the police investigation of the document has been concluded.
A senior IDF officer said that the recent events surrounding the appointment contain an element of humiliation for Ashkenazi: "After all, after nearly four years in office, Ashkenazi is leaving bruised."
According to the same officer, "The document affair did not do him any good on a personal level. And apparently, today, too, with his quick decision, Barak didn't show him any mercy, only goading the bad feeling as has happened in recent months with the increased tensions between them."
Galant document mystery still brewing
The Galant document, made public by Channel 2 news some two weeks ago, suggested Galant will best achieve his goal of becoming the next IDF chief of staff, by "presenting a negative image" of rival, Major-General Benny Gantz and current IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi.
The scandal has placed the entire military brass under scrutiny, including Ashkenazi himself and Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Nevertheless, the police announced Thursday that both, as well as several other high-ranking military officials, were cleared.
While the police have concluded the brunt of the investigation, the question still remains who authored the document and the role of current Chief of Staff Ashkenazi. Ashkenazi apparently was in possession of the document for many weeks and did nothing with it, except notify Gantz and Eizenkot of its content.
Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report
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