Israel’s DM pushes to appoint new army chief before elections

i24NEWS

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Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi (C) after a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, Israel, on March 30, 2022.
Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi (C) after a meeting with Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz in Jerusalem, Israel, on March 30, 2022.

Gantz has three top generals shortlisted for the position

Israel’s Defense Minister Benny Gantz requested to appoint a new military chief under the interim government of Yair Lapid following the upcoming dissolution of the Knesset.

With current Israel Defense Forces (IDF) Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi’s term expiring in January 2023, it leaves only six month to approve his replacement. The Defense Ministry says the matter is urgent as new elections are approaching in October, following the governing coalition’s recent decision to dissolve the parliament.

With neither political bloc reportedly having enough public support to gain the majority of 61 seats in the elections, a new coalition will have to be formed, which usually takes several months. Israel’s Defense Ministry voiced concerns that leaving the country without the leading army official for an indefinite period of time could undermine national security.

Gantz already selected three candidates among top generals to replace Kochavi but there might not be enough time to vote on them before the Knesset disbands. This means the appointment could be made by the transitional government, which will be led by interim prime minister Yair Lapid.

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However, Israel’s Attorney-General Gali Baharav-Miara is hesitant to make the immediate decision saying the appointments are discouraged during the election season, but not entirely banned, according to The Jerusalem Post. She added that exceptions could be made but the Defense Ministry’s legal adviser would need to present convincing arguments to prove the appointment couldn’t wait.  

If the vote doesn’t take place before the elections chances are high that the transitional government will extend Kochavi’s term. The new government will then need to be formed before January for a new IDF chief to be approved without delay.

The current government of Prime Minister Naftali Bennett announced its decision to disband the Knesset earlier on Tuesday after weeks of struggling to secure its majority with several lawmakers defecting from the coalition. The parliament on Wednesday approved a preliminary dissolution bill, which will now have to be approved by the Knesset Committee. 

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