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Israel: Kochavi warns of two heads for army

Chief of Staff of the Israeli occupation army, Aviv Kochavi on 12 November 2019 in Tel Aviv [Amir Levy/Getty Images]
IDF Chief Aviv Kochavi makes a statement in Tel Aviv, Israel. [Amir Levy/Getty Images]

Chief of Staff of the Israeli army Aviv Kochavi has warned of having two heads of the Israeli military in light of having a junior minister in the defence minister's office, Israeli media has reported.

Kochavi stressed that the Israeli army would not be answerable in any way to ministers Bezalel Smotrich and Itamar Ben-Gvir, even though they have been given ministerial responsibility for some aspects of the military as part of their coalition agreements.

Kochavi regards the handing of the army-related responsibilities to any minister other than the defence minister as an unacceptable breach of the Israeli army chain of command and is determined to ensure that the military does not allow it to happen, Channel 12 News reported on Thursday.

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The Israeli TV channel also disclosed that it is understood that Kochavi regards any requirement for the chief of staff to report to anyone other than the defence minister as a breach of the quasi-constitutional Basic Law: The Military, which specifies: "The minister in charge of the army on behalf of the government is the minister of defence."

Prior to announcing the government, Kochavi told Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu: "The chief of staff will not work with any additional minister, under any circumstances, other than the defence minister."

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