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Israel picks new army chief, Major General Gadi Eizenkot


Jerusalem (Nov. 29, 2014): Israel has chosen Major General Gadi Eizenkot as the next chief of its army, at a time when the Jewish state faces tough security challenges and the region goes through unparallelled political instability.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu met Eizenkot, 54, yesterday to confirm his appointment as the 21st chief of staff of the Israel Defence Forces (IDF), media reports said on Saturday.

Israel's largest circulated daily Yedioth Ahronoth reported that the appointment of Eizenkot was delayed because of Netanyahu's foot-dragging.

Ya'alon's people, however,have officially denied any rift with the Prime Minister, the report said.

Ya'alon is expected to make the announcement Saturday evening andthe government will vote on the decision on Sunday.

The current chief of staff Lt Gen Benny Gantz is due to step down in February.

Ya'alon is said to have interviewed Eizenkot as well as the only other contender for the post Maj Gen Yair Naveh in recent weeks.

The Prime Minister and his Cabinet are involved in the selection process of the IDF Chief of Staff, but generally, the Defence Minister gets his pick.

Eizenkot began his IDF service with the Golani Brigade.

As he rose through the ranks, he commanded some of the brigade's elite units, such as Orev and Battalion 13.

He was named Golani's commander in 1997.

In 1999, Eizenkot was appointed Military Secretaryto the Prime Minister and the Defence Minister.

He was appointed commander of the Judea and Samaria Division in 2003.

Eizenkotalso served as head of the IDF's Operations Directorate in 2005, and in 2006 he assumed command of the Northern sector.

His appointment comes at a time when Israel still deals with the aftermath of abloody war against militants in Gaza.

The West-Bank based Palestinian Authority has stepped-up diplomatic offensive resulting in some of the European countries extending recognition to the Palestinian state.

Neighbouring Syria remains in turmoil and the Jewish state continues to deal with the Iranian nuclear programme which it describes as an existential threat.