Israel Gets New Military Chief – Major General Benny Gantz

VOA News February 13, 2011

The Israeli cabinet on Sunday approved the appointment of a new armed forces chief at a time when Israel is forced to deal with political uncertainty in the Middle East.

Major General Benny Gantz takes over from Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi, who steps down on Monday.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said the appointment will stabilize the country’s defense forces during a time of “deep turmoil” in the region.

Within hours of his appointment, Gantz is scheduled to meet with the top U.S. military officer who was dispatched to the region following the ouster of Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak.

Admiral Michael Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, first traveled to Jordan where he conferred on Sunday with King Abdullah and the country’s senior military officer.

During his visit to Israel, Mullen will also meet with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu and President Shimon Peres. He returns to Washington on Monday.

Israel and Egypt signed a peace treaty in 1979, and there is concern within Israel that with the departure of Mubarak, that treaty may be in jeopardy. But on Saturday, Egypt’s new military rulers indicated they would continue to observe the accord.

Netanyahu welcomed the pledge. He called the treaty “the cornerstone for peace and stability in the entire Middle East.”

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