A shocking discovery has shaken up political life in Israel, it can even be called a coup: the outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli army, Aviv Kochavi, informed Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of his decision not to follow orders given by his coalition ministers, according to the Israeli TV channel “12”.
Special report Israeli television channel 12 showed that the outgoing chief of staff of the Israeli army, Aviv Kochavi, informed Prime Minister Netanyahu of his decision not to follow orders given by his coalition ministers.
Defiance of two ministers and a political crisis on the horizon
Kochavi’s petition concerns ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, to whom Netanyahu has given broad powers, including those related to the army, as part of the coalition government agreement.
In his recent phone call with Netanyahu, the outgoing Israeli army chief clarified that he would only follow orders from Defense Minister Yoav Galad and respond to orders from elsewhere. Kochavi will oppose the orders of Smotrich and Ben-Gvir and ensure that they are not carried out.
This situation is expected to cause a great deal of confusion, as Smotrich has taken over the post of minister in the Ministry of Defense in charge of government activities in the occupied territories. As a result, the leader of the Religious Zionist Party was able to appoint generals to the positions of leaders of the civil-military service in the West Bank and to resolve political issues in Israeli settlements.
Potential coup d’état
These powers are contrary to the tradition that the Major General in Charge of Coordinating Government Activities in the Territories (COGAT) is appointed by the Secretary of Defense after review by the Army’s legal department.
In addition, Netanyahu’s coalition agreement with Ben-Gvir expands his role as Minister of National Security and Police, and puts him in charge of the border police, removing command from the Ministry of Defense.
Such a decision will create two leaderships in the Israeli forces in the West Bank, since the border police currently operate in conjunction with the Israeli army under the command of CoS.
In light of the event, Kochavi told Netanyahu that he would not allow dual subordination because of the consequences it could cause, and was ready to order the withdrawal of the border police in full force. “If control of the border police is transferred from Israeli army (IDF) command in Judea and Samaria (occupied West Bank) and from national police command inside Israel, we will send soldiers and reservists there, not border police.” said the head of the IDF.
Kochavi is due to retire on 16 January 2023 and will be replaced by Major General Erzi Halevi.
Israeli army upset
His concern echoes that of the Israeli army and thousands of other military personnel, including 1,197 former Israeli Air Force officers who were sent to the Israeli Supreme Court on December 26. letter against the new government. Air Force officers consider him a threat that will “destroy Israel’s democracy” and put an end to “the coexistence of the Israeli community.”
“We are on a very slippery slope in the process of politicizing relations between the government and the military in general,” said Kobi Michael, former director general of Israel’s Ministry of Strategic Affairs.