IDF Chief's Term Not Extended

Published: April 6th 2010
in News » Israel

Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

Israeli defense minister Ehud Barak told IDF chief of general staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on Tuesday that his four-year term as head of the army would not be extended to a fifth year.


The Jerusalem Post reported that defence officials are saying that Ashkenazi had assumed that his tenure was going to be extended one more year, and that the decision was seen as a blow to his stature.


However, officers in Ashkenazi’s inner circle are saying that the IDF chief never approached Barak or Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu about staying on for another year, making Barack’s decision to release the news to the media all the more surprising.


Ashkenazi will complete his four-year term in early 2011.


Barak met with Ashkenazi on Tuesday and told him that the Prime Minister agreed with his decision, adding that both men respected the job that Ashkenazi has done.


Barak told Ashkenazi, 56, that he had full confidence that the chief would continue to do his job fully and use all his energy to ensure that the IDF remains prepared for all upcoming obstacles.


Ashkenazi was rumoured to be interested in having his term extended by one year given the threats that Israel currently faces from Hamas, Hezbollah and Iran. Extending his term would have been consistent with the tone of recent appointments within Israel’s military sector. For instance, the government chose to extend the terms of Mossad chief Meir Dagan and Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin.


“Dagan and Diskin both had their tenures extended due to the security threats that Israel faces,” an officer told the Jerusalem Post. “Do these threats not apply to Ashkenazi?”


On Tuesday, Ashkenazi issued a public statement – unusual for an IDF chief – through IDF Spokesperson Brig.-Gen. Avi Benayahu explaining that he had not asked for his term to be extended. He also urged Israeli to focus on “what’s important” instead of on why his tenure was not being extended.


“I would like to clarify that I never asked the prime minister, the defence minister or anyone else to extend my term for a fifth year,” Ashkenazi said.  “I think that the government’s decision, when I started my job, that the term should be for four years is correct and proper, and therefore I do not see any reason to talk about a fifth year when it is not on the agenda.”


Media reports claiming that the IDF chief’s term was going to be extended have caused tension between him and Barak, especially as they were thought to have been initiated by Benayahu’s office. A report airing on Israel’s Channel 1 a few months ago caused Barak to publicly denounce Benayahu.







Related articles: (IDF, Ehud Barak, Israeli military, syria, lebanon, hezbollah)

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