Vetting panel okays Kochavi for IDF chief, final vote next week
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Vetting panel okays Kochavi for IDF chief, final vote next week

Netanyahu to seek final approval for the general on November 25; IDF deputy chief of staff’s replacement still unknown following defense minister shakeup

Judah Ari Gross is The Times of Israel's military correspondent.

Incoming Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi shakes hands with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at a ceremony in the army's Tel Aviv headquarters on May 11, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)
Incoming Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi shakes hands with IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot at a ceremony in the army's Tel Aviv headquarters on May 11, 2017. (Israel Defense Forces)

A vetting committee approved the candidacy of Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi for the position of IDF chief of staff Tuesday, paving the way for him to step into the role at the beginning of next year.

A final vote to approve Kochavi to take over as the 22nd commander of the Israel Defense Forces was scheduled to be brought before the government on Sunday, November 25, according to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s office.

On Tuesday evening, the Senior Appointments Advisory Committee, led by former judge and state comptroller Eliezer Goldberg, announced it had approved the current IDF deputy chief of staff to take over for outgoing army commander Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who is due to end his tenure on December 31.

“The panel found no deficiency in the integrity of Maj. Gen. Aviv Kochavi,” the committee said in a statement.

The panel said it had reviewed the general’s curriculum vitae and spoken with Kochavi, as well as with a number of people who could “assist the committee in reaching an opinion about the candidate.”

Kochavi was expected to be approved by the government vote. It was unclear who would take over for him as IDF deputy chief of staff, as no replacement had been named as of Tuesday night.

Kochavi was nominated for the position last month by former defense minister Avigdor Liberman, who resigned last week, citing differences of opinion over Israel’s policies toward the Gaza Strip and the Hamas terror group.

With Liberman’s exit, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who also serves as foreign minister and health minister, took over as defense minister as well.

Liberman praised the Goldberg committee’s decision to approve Kochavi’s candidacy, saying the general “has operational and rich command experience, integrity, values and morals.”

Kochavi’s nomination was one of Liberman’s clearest achievements during his tenure as defense minister.

From a pool of four candidates, Kochavi, 54, was seen as the front-runner for the position, having served as the head of the IDF Northern Command and head of Military Intelligence, following years as a field commander in the Paratroopers Brigade.

A husband and father of three daughters, Kochavi holds a bachelor’s degree in philosophy from the Hebrew University, a master’s degree in public administration from Harvard University, and a second master’s degree in international relations from Johns Hopkins University.

Netanyahu had reportedly favored former IDF Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir to succeed Eisenkot. Liberman disagreed, and was earlier said to have wanted former deputy chief of staff Maj. Gen. Nitzan Alon for the post.

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