Israel’s President Implores Top Army Brass to Speak Up Despite Political Pressure

President Reuven Rivlin came to the Glilot army base on Monday to meet with army officers holding the rank of brigadier general or higher. This was part of a conference at which Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Aviv Kochavi presented his five-year plan for the IDF to his senior officers.

Kochavi invested great effort in this plan, which is currently on ice. It was supposed to take effect in January, but fell victim to the reigning political paralysis.

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Netanyahu’s ‘annexation nation’ is ready to strike again. ListenHaaretz Weekly Ep. 60

With a permanent transitional government, it’s impossible to approve the annual budget. And with no budget, the plan is meaningless in practical terms, even if the army says it has redirected funds from within its own budget to meet some of the plan’s goals.

Meanwhile, the IDF has launched a public and media campaign promoting the plan. The meeting with Rivlin will be followed by meetings with journalists and retired senior officers later this week.

Presidents have always been the allies of IDF chiefs of staff. Kochavi, like his predecessors, sees the President’s Residence as a place where the army will always get attention and support.

Sometimes, this strategic alliance leads both sides astray. Last autumn, when the generals warned Rivlin about urgent security needs, he leveraged this to urge Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and opposition leader Benny Gantz to overcome their disagreements and form a unity government.

Netanyahu, who is currently concerned solely with his political survival, went even further. He harnessed the army’s warnings and new developments on the Iranian front (the cruise missile attack on Saudi Arabia and reports of Iranian missile deployments in Yemen) to portray Gantz as neglecting Israel’s security needs out of petty political considerations.