Would the incoming Israeli Chief of Staff favor an attack on Iran?

Posted: February 6th, 2011 | Author: | Filed under: In the News, the US and us, war | Tags: , , , , | 4 Comments »

Major General Benny Gantz spoke frequently on Iran, but his position regarding the military option remains unclear

After an unprecedented series of events, consisting of a public dispute between the Defense Minister and the departing Chief of Staff and two canceled appointments to replace the latter, it seems that the IDF finally has its new commander: Major General Benny Gantz.

Gantz was the head of the Northern Command, the military attaché in Washington and in his last role, Deputy Chief of Staff. Last summer, after Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided not to appoint him as the new IDF commander, Gantz left the army.

As Deputy Chief of Staff, Gantz was in charge of the work relating to the Iranian nuclear threat. In interviews and public appearances he referred to Iran as a danger not only to Israel but to the entire international community.

Last spring, Gantz said that “there is no question regarding our moral right to act [againt Iran]“ [Heb]. Yet according to Ynet’s defense analyst Ron Ben-Yishay, much like the departing Gabi Ashkenazi, Gantz belongs to the “skeptics” camp, and would like to avoid IDF military action against the Iranian nuclear facilities. Unlike Ashkenazi, Gantz is not expected to oppose such an action if the political leadership decides to carry it out.

Here is a video of Gantz speaking on Iran at the previous Herzliya conference:

UPDATE: Haaretz’s Amir Oren also estimate that Benni Gantz opposes a military strike on Iran. “Gantz is part of the level-headed camp, led by Gabi Ashkenazi,” writes Oren [link in Hebrew]. Oren names other senior IDF generals that hold the same views, and concludes that the “pro-active” coalition on Iran, led by Netanyahu and Barak, is disintegrating.

Both Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak are said to be among those favoring a military confrontation with Iran, if all other efforts to stop the nuclear program fails. Departing Chief of Staff Ashkenazi as well as Ministers Avigdor Lieberman and Moshe Yaalon are considered among those opposing an attack on Iran.

Israeli Chiefs of Staff are appointed for three years, though it is not uncommon for the term to be extended to four years. That means Gantz would leave office between 2014 and 2015.