Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter plans to appoint Israel Prison Service head Yaakov Ganot the next police commissioner. Dichter informed Ganot of the decision shortly before holding a press conference in Jerusalem Sunday evening.
Ganot told Ynet, "I am going back to the system I grew up in since I enlisted in 1964. I know the people, the officers and the high standard policemen, and for me this is closure.
"Together with Minister Dichter, we will do whatever it takes to succeed. I accept this appointment with great appreciation and mixed feelings, since I am leaving the Prison Service, which is a special and professional organization," he added.
Dichter fired Karadi's deputy, Benny Kaniak, although he was not mentioned in the Zeiler report, which slammed the police top brass' conduct in the Perinian affair. He asked him to replace Ganot as Israel Prison Service chief.
Major-General Miki Levy, whose serves as the police's representative in the United States, will be appointed deputy police commissioner.
In the press conference, Dichter defined the Zeiler Commission's work as "intensive, comprehensive, professional and courageous.
"I received the report along with the people of Israel. I read it and the report is indeed very harsh.
"I came to the conclusion that in order to get the policies implemented right, and especially in order to improve the performance of Israel Police's 28,000 men, I had to put a new chief at the head of the organization. I decided to wait for the report to be published out of respect to the Zeiler Comission."
The minister added that "even before the Zeiler report was released, I informed the police commissioner that I have no intention of extending his tenure beyond July of this year. (Prime Minister Ehud) Olmert and (Attorney General Menachem) Mazuz were aware of this move."
Dichter concluded in an optimistic tone. "Gentlemen, this crisis leads to an opportunity. We will use this crisis in order to change, improve, succeed. We have no other police, but they can be better. They must be better. This is what we are going to do from here. Good luck to us all."
Talking to Ynet Sunday night, Karadi praised the decision to appoint Ganot as his replacement, saying that "he is an excellent officer with experience and a good spirit."
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert called Karadi on Sunday evening and thanked him for his service.
Olmert expressed his confidence that designated Police Chief Yaakov Ganot and his deputy Miki Levi would lead the Israel Police to new achievements and success in preserving the rule of law, public order and the citizen's personal security.
Ganot charged with corruption in the past
Yaakov Ganot, 59, joined the security forces 43 years ago. He lives in Haifa, is married and has two children. He served as Police Northern District commander, head of the Traffic Department, commander of the Immigration Administration and Border Guard commander. He had a bachelor's degree from the Haifa University.
In 1972, as part of his Border Guard, Ganot was seriously injured as he tried to rescue an elite unit commander and his driver who were killed on the Lebanon border. During the operation, Ganot was attacked by terrorists and lost one of his eyes. He was awarded a citation of excellence following the operation. Since his injury, Ganot began wearing drak sunglasses which became his symbol.
In 1994, during his term as Northern District commander, Ganot was charged with corruption, fraud, and breach of trust. Despite harsh criticism by the presiding judges, he was eventually exonerated by both the District Court and the Supreme Court.
However, the affair has inevitably cast doubt on Ganot’s integrity, and may lead to a petition to the High Court of Justice against his appointment as Israel’s next police chief.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz recently ruled that there was no legal obstacle in Ganot's appointment as police commissioner, but warned that there may be problems in light of Ganot's conduct in the past.
Aides to Dichter told Ynet on Sunday night that Mazuz was aware of the plans to appoint Ganot.
Officials at the Internal Security Minister said that Dichter and Mazuz "discussed the appointment of Chief Warden Yaakov Ganot as the police's 16th commissioner. The attorney general did not see any legal obstacle in Ganot's appointment. The attorney general pointed to the difficulties which may be raised following the appointment and the two clarified the issued amongst themselves."
Earlier, a senior legal official said in response to Ganot's appointment that "it is enough to look at the Zeiler Commission's conclusions regarding Karadi and the Supreme Court ruling regarding Ganot in order to understand that this appointment is inappropriate."
The Movement for Quality Government in Israel announced that "in light of the harsh criticism voiced by the Supreme Court when Major-General Yaakov Ganot was acquitted, we will weigh our legal options."
Karadi 'wants to take personal responsibility'Dichter made his announcement shortly after Police Commissioner Moshe Karadi announced his resignation, following the harsh report submitted by the Zeiler Commission earlier in the day and despite the fact that two out of three of the committee members ruled that he could continue in his post until the end of his term in August.
"As a person who understands the importance of the organization, I must take into account the witch-hunt which the organization could be thrown into. Out of a desire to take personal responsibility, I decided to announce that I am leaving my post as the Israel Police's commissioner.
"The Israeli government will decide on when I should leave my post. After 28 years in the service of the defense establishment I will bid farewell to the organization I love so much, which was a home and a family to me through most of my adult life," he said in a press conference.
Karadi admitted that he was surprised by the harsh conclusions related to him.
"I plan to address the issue in detail, but this is neither the time nor the place for that. This is a very difficult moment for me. This is a very difficult moment for the organization headed by me."
Raanan Ben-Zur and Aviram Zino contributed to the report