Cabinet approves Gantz appointment
Day before Lieutenant-General Ashkenazi leaves office, government votes in favor of Major-General Benny Gantz as army's 20th chief of staff. PM Netanyahu says 'appointment will stabilize IDF at a time of deep turmoil in our region,' welcomes Egyptian military's commitment to peace treaty
The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved the appointment of Major-General Benny Gantz as the Israel Defense Forces' 20th chief of staff.
Gantz's appointment "will strengthen the IDF's stability, which is particularly important at this time, while our region is in deep turmoil," the prime minister said.
He added that "Major-General Gantz is an outstanding officer, an experienced commander and has a lot of experience, both from an operational and organizational point of view, and has all the traits needed to lead the IDF."
Netanyahu congratulated outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant-General Gabi Ashkenazi. "We thank him for excellent captainship. I would like to express my deep appreciation for his work and wish him luck in the future."
Sunday's cabinet meeting (Photo: Gil Yohanan)
Minister Michael Eitan, who was the only one to oppose the appointment of Major-General Yoav Galant as chief of staff, said that after Galant's appointment has been cancelled he must be kept away from any public positions in the future.
Addressing the construction offenses which led to the appointment's cancellation, Eitan said that "Major-General Galant received a yellow penalty card and a red penalty card and another red penalty card, and persisted. A public figure must not act that way."
Defense Minister Ehud Barak criticized Eitan's "inappropriate comments" against Galant. Eitan told Barak in response, "If there's anything inappropriate, it's your conduct in this case and the way you abandoned Galant."
According to Eitan, Barak used Galant to replace the current chief of staff as soon as possible, and should have fought for his appointment if he was so sure that he had suffered injustice.
Education Minister Giden Sa'ar said that "Gantz will be an excellent chief of staff, with good judgment. He is experienced, serious and is likely to unite the General Staff for teamwork, and that's the important thing.
"The outgoing chief of staff was excellent, he did excellent work in rehabilitating the IDF, especially after the Second Lebanon War, and I think I'm voicing what the vast majority in Israel feels."
'Peace agreement foundation for stability'
Addressing the Egypt upheaval, the prime minister settled for a laconic statement: "Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak resigned over the weekend and left Cairo. The Israeli government welcomes the Egyptian army's commitment to the peace treaty.
"This is an agreement of many years which has been nurtured and advanced by all Egyptian governments and is a foundation for stability not just between the two countries but in the entire Middle East."
On Friday, the government ministers received a text message from the Prime Minister's Office, stressing Netanyahu's order "to avoid giving any interviews or commenting on the Egyptian issue."
Some of the ministers received the same reminder on Sunday. Those who agreed to discuss the situation in Egypt did it in a laconic manner as well.
National Infrastructure Minister Uzi Landau said that "the only certain thing in the Middle East is the uncertainty. Things can turn over in one second. We can expect a more democratic, more free Egypt, and wish that upon its people. Nonetheless, we must not forget that we are living in the Middle East and must rely on our own power and strength."
Education Minister Sa'ar said, "The Egyptian army's announcement that it is committed to the agreements very important. The army's dominance in the transit period is highly important and gives hope for stability like in other countries in the region, for example Turkey, which has a positive military orientation in terms of stability interests.
"Naturally, we will closely monitor the events and we wish the Egyptian people well."
Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report
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