(Communicated by the Prime Minister’s Media Adviser)

Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz met this evening (Monday), 22 January 2007, and decided that Defense Ministry Director-General Maj.-Gen, (res.) Gaby Ashkenazi (Hebrew CV is their candidate to be the 19th IDF Chief-of-Staff.

Defense Minister Peretz informed Prime Minister Olmert of his recommendation of Ashkenazi. The Prime Minister announced that he also supports Ashkenazi’s candidacy. The two men expressed their confidence in Ashkenazi’s ability to successfully fulfill the post and implement the lessons of the Lebanese War.

Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz praised the other candidates for the position – Deputy Chief-of-Staff Maj.-Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky and GOC Ground Forces Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz – and noted that they were both worthy candidates. The Prime Minister and Defense Minister asked Maj.-Gen. Kaplinsky to continue as Deputy Chief-of-Staff.

In accordance with Basic Law: The Army, the Defense Minister will submit Ashkenazi’s candidacy to the Government’s Advisory Committee on Senior Appointments chaired by retired Supreme Court Judge Yaacov Turkel before submitting it to the full Cabinet for a decision.

Since IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz announced his resignation, Prime Minister Olmert and Defense Minister Peretz have held a series of consultations with former Prime Ministers, former Defense Ministers, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Chairman Tzahi Hanegbi, former IDF Chiefs-of-Staff and others in order to help them formulate their position regarding the most suitable candidate for the post. The Defense Minister also interviewed candidates for the position.