Defense Minister Barak recommended to the cabinet the intention to appoint Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the 20th IDF Chief-of-Staff.

(Communicated by the Cabinet Secretariat)

At the weekly Cabinet meeting today (Sunday), 6 February 2011:

1. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu discussed the appointment of the next IDF Chief-of-Staff:

"The stability of the IDF is always important, but it is much more important now given the deep shocks in our region. The IDF needs stability; therefore, over the weekend, I determined, along with Defense Minister Ehud Barak, to decide regarding the appointment of the next IDF Chief-of-Staff.

I would like to express appreciation for Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, a seasoned fighter with experience, who contributed greatly to the security of the state. I know that he has undergone not simple experiences in recent months and I also understand the depth of his disappointment. This is natural; this is human. But in the circumstances that have been created, my duty as Prime Minister is to make clear decisions in order to lift the cloud of uncertainty from the IDF senior command.

Therefore, today, Defense Minister Barak will recommend, to the cabinet, our joint intention to appoint Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz as the 20th IDF Chief-of-Staff.

Maj.-Gen. Gantz has done the entire track which qualifies him to be the next commander of the IDF, including his recent tenure as Deputy Chief-of-Staff. He is an experienced commander and an excellent officer. He has all the qualities and all the necessary experience to be an excellent IDF Chief-of-Staff. 

I would like to take this opportunity to also express my deep appreciation for Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh and Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who were also considered for the post. I must note that both of them expressed their full willingness to serve under designated IDF Chief-of-Staff Benny Gantz. I believe that this shows that the Chief-of-Staff and the General Staff will cooperate and work together as a united team. This is important both for the IDF and the State of Israel."

Prime Minister Netanyahu also referred to the explosion in the Egyptian gas pipeline:

"On Friday, 4 February 2011, an explosion occurred in an Egyptian gas pipeline leading to a halt in the supply of natural gas to the State of Israel. Israel is prepared for such situations and has the possibility of immediately switching to alternative energy sources. It is important to note that we are prepared for any scenario and I ask that National Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau to detail these preparations and the possibilities at our disposal. In any case, due to these advance preparations, no problems are expected in the supply of gas to the State of Israel.

I believe that the shocks in our region underscore and reiterate that Israel is an island of stability in turbulent area and we will continue to do everything to ensure the security and vital interests of the State of Israel, in the face of the major challenges yet before us as well."

2. The Cabinet noted Attorney General Yehudah Weinstein’s 3 February 2011 opinion regarding Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, in which the former presented broader and more updated data than he had prior to the Cabinet’s previous decision to appoint Maj.-Gen. Galant as the next IDF Chief-of-Staff, and decided – after considering the matter in all its aspects – to cancel its 5 September 2010 decision to appoint Maj.-Gen. Galant as the next IDF Chief-of-Staff.

3. The Cabinet noted Defense Minister Barak’s statement that he intends to submit for Cabinet approval the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Gantz as the next IDF Chief-of-Staff, pending an examination by – and opinion from – the public committee on senior appointments, chaired by retired Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel.

4. Pursuant to Article 12 of the 1959 State Service Law and in accordance with the recommendation of Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Yaalon, the Cabinet appointed Yosef Kuperwasser as the Director-General of the Strategic Affairs Ministry, effective 1 March 2011.

5. The Cabinet approved the following Foreign Service appointments:

  • Yacov Hadas-Handelsman – Ambassador to the European Union;
  • Gil Haskel – Ambassador to Kenya and non-resident Ambassador to Uganda, Zambia, Tanzania, Malawi and the Seychelles;
  • Yoed Magen – Ambassador to Colombia; and
  • Hagit Ben-Yaakov – Ambassador to Latvia and non-resident Ambassador to Lithuania.

6. Pursuant to Article 31A of the 2009 Law on the Inclusion of Biometric Means of Identification in Identity Documents and in a Data Base, the Cabinet appointed the Ministerial Committee on Biometric Applications, to be chaired by Prime Minister Netanyahu. The other members of the Committee are Interior Minister Eli Yishai (Deputy Chairman), Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, Home Front Defense Minister Matan Vilnai and Minister Michael Eitan. Attorney General Weinstein and the Prime Minister’s Office Director of Biometric Applications are permanently invited to the committee’s meetings. The Committee will act on behalf of the Government regarding implementation of the directives in the aforesaid Law.

7. The Cabinet unanimously approved expanding the TV broadcasts that are available to the public for free, from the current five channels to approximately 12 regular channels and approximately four HD channels, within two years. The goal of the decision is to enable as large a public as possible to view many channels for free and to lead to a lowering of prices in the field of multi-channel television, thus aiding families of reduced economic means.

8. The Cabinet approved the establishment of 15 additional urban task forces and to expand the activities of existing task forces at a cost of NIS 10 million. This is in order to assist Israeli social renewal in the fields of education, Zionism, culture and social welfare and economics, and in order to reduce both social gaps and negative migration from various areas (not including the Galilee and the Negev, which are budgeted for under different Cabinet decisions). Fifteen additional National-Civic Service Administration positions will be allocated to carry out the foregoing. It was also decided to establish a steering committee, chaired by the Prime Minister’s Office, which will consult with representatives of the various funds and the task force initiators, and which will be responsible for outlining the activities and the communities in which the new urban task forces will be established.

9. Pursuant to its 24 February 2008 and 7 December 2008 decisions, the Cabinet decided to complete as soon as possible, during 2011, and, if need be, in early 2012, the implementation of a NIS 125.5 million plan for the structural reinforcement of residences in the area adjacent to the Gaza Strip.