Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon is working to permanently extend the terms of IDF chiefs of General Staff from three years to four, with the government then having the option of extending the tenure for a fifth year.
Ya’alon made his comments to Army Radio in an interview broadcast Wednesday from the sukkah at IDF headquarters in Tel Aviv.
His announcement came a week after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Ya’alon’s recommendation, said he would extend Chief of Staff Benny Gantz’s three-year term by an additional year.
IDF chiefs of staff are generally appointed to three-year terms, but Gantz’s predecessor Gabi Ashkenazi served a four-year term.
“We extended Gantz’s term because of the government’s and public’s appreciation of the manner in which he functions, and in which he leads the IDF to important accomplishments with calm, composure, and confidence,” explained Ya’alon.
As chief of staff, Gantz led the IDF during Operation Pillar of Defense in November 2012, designed to strike Hamas in response to ongoing rocket attacks from the Gaza Strip. The IDF has also had to keep a close eye on developments in Syria and Egypt resulting from bloody political unrest in the two countries during Gantz’s tenure, as well as on the Iranian nuclear program.
Ya’alon, himself a former chief of the staff, was denied a fourth year in the post by then prime minister Ariel Sharon, amid disagreements between the two regarding Israel’s policy toward the Palestinians.
In the special holiday interview, Ya’alon also said he sees signs that Iran feels weakened. “The fact that [Hasan] Rouhani was elected as the president indicates the crisis in Iran because of the sanctions. The question now is if the powers, especially the US, will take advantage of the crisis.”