Ashkenazi 'Never Asked' To Stay

Defense Minister Barak informed the Chief of Staff his term will end as planned in February 2011.

Gil Ronen, | updated: 11:30

Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi
Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi
Israel news photo: file

IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General Gabi Ashkenazi said Tuesday that he had never asked to have his term of office extended by a year. The statement came in response to media reports that Defense Minister Ehud Barak informed Ashkenazi that his term would end as planned in February 2011.

Barak's office stated that it informed Ashkenazi that in accordance with the government's decision to appoint him for a four-year term in February 2007, he would be leaving the Chief of Staff's office 10 months from now. It also said that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu approved the decision.

'Concentrate on the challenges'
"I wish to clarify that I never asked the Defense Minister, the Prime Minister or anyone else to serve a fifth year,” Ashkenazi said. “I believe that the government's decision to limit the term to four years was the right one, and therefore it is not clear why the subject of a fifth year has been brought up, since it was never on the agenda,” the IDF's top officer added.

"More than three years ago, I was called up by the Defense Minister and by the Prime Minister at the time [Ehud Olmert] to leave civilian life and go back to the IDF in order to serve as Chief of Staff,” Ashkenazi stated. “From that day until now I have been discharging my duty with faith and a sense of mission. All of my energy and resources – along with my colleagues in the General Staff, the IDF's officers and its soldiers – are devoted to building up the IDF, to the readiness of the forces in conscripted and reserve duty and to strengthening public faith in the IDF. We face complex security problems and difficult challenges. They require our concentration and concentrate upon them we shall.”