Rafael EitanThe Cabinet today extended the term of Chief of Staff Gen. Rafael Eitan for another year and also appointed Dr. Moshe Mandelbaum Governor of the Bank of Israel, succeeding Arnon Gafni who resigned several weeks ago.

Eitan’s reappointment was warmly endorsed by Premier Menachem Begin who is recovering from a hip injury and did not attend today’s Cabinet session. In a letter read for him by Deputy Premier Simcha Ehrlich, Begin praised Eitan as “One of the greatest commanders and warriors in Israel.” He expresses “hope” that during the coming year, “Israel’s security will be maintained and peace will be preserved” under Eitan’s stewardship over the armed forces.

Eitan’s reappointment makes him the longest tenured Chief of Staff in Israel’s history. According to Cabinet Secretary Arye Naor, it was approved “without apposition,” implying that there was in fact some reservation expressed during the Cabinet discussion. Cabinet sources revealed that Begin and Defense Minister Ariel Sharon had agreed last June to keep Eitan on for another term after Sharon accepted appointment as Defense Minister.

Background Of New Governor

The new Governor of the Bank of Israel is 49 years old and served as Deputy Governor under Gafni. His five-year term must be approved by President Yitzhak Navon. Mandelbaum served previously as Director General of the Ministry of Commerce and Industry, chairman of the Industrial Development Bank and director of the Foreign Trade Insurance Co. He represented the National Religious Party on the Jerusalem city council and is a lecturer at Bar Ilan University.