Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein froze the process of appointing a new IDF chief of staff Sunday after a document allegedly authored for Major-General Yoav Galant in his race for the role was published over the weekend.
"It is not possible, at this stage, to choose a chief of staff until the claim is investigated, which will be done as soon as possible," the attorney general said after an emergency meeting was called on the matter.
During the meeting, he ordered State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and Yoav Segalovich, head of the police's intelligence and investigations unit, to launch an investigation on the validity of the document and update him on developments.
Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Defense Minister Ehud Barak also referred Sunday for the first time to the revelation of what was dubbed Galant's "strategic document".
Barak said he supported the prime minister in his decision to appeal to the attorney general in order to put the affair to rest. "I am convinced that it is possible and necessary to find out quickly how reliable the document is and reveal the identity of those behind it," Barak said.
And according to a statement issued on behalf of Ashkenazi, he demanded that the matter be probed and declared that the army would cooperate with any investigation.
"The chief of staff regrets the fact that other matters and issues, which may badly damage the IDF and the public's trust, are being brought into the framework of the important process of appointing a chief of staff.
"The chief of staff believes that the two options discussed by the media, both the approach that this is a reliable document and the approach that the document was forged, are extremely serious and require an investigation."
The chief of staff added that he hoped the truth would come out so as not to remove the suspicions from any officer or civilian.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday morning that he had instructed Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to look into the "Galant document".
According to the Prime Minister's Office, Benjamin Netanyahu appealed to the attorney general on Saturday evening. "I met with the defense minister, who is in charge of the IDF, and then turned to the attorney general and asked him to look into the matter as soon as possible. Weinstein told me he would do just that," the prime minister said during the weekly cabinet meeting.
Weinstein was expected to hold an urgent meeting Sunay with State Prosecutor Moshe Lador and the head of the police's investigation and intelligence department.
'We must find out who was responsible'
On Sunday morning, PR consultant Eyal Arad filed a complaint with the Tel Aviv District Police claiming the "Galant document" was forged using his PR office's logo.
The document, made public by Channel 2 news Friday, supposedly suggests Galant can best achieve his goal by "presenting a negative image" of his competitor, Major-General Benny Gantz and current IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.
The document bears the logo of Arad's consulting firm, but he has denied any involvement.
Many within the IDF and the political establishment have called to investigate the affair. Only the defense or prime minister can authorize such a probe.
Defense Minister Ehud Barak's scheduled meeting with Gantz on Sunday apparently indicates he will not order an investigation at this stage.
Binyamin Ben-Eliezer (Labor) was the first minister to openly call for an investigation. "I'm in shock. Regardless of whether the document is forged or not, a thorough investigation is required. I have asked the defense minister to order an investigation," he told Ynet.
"We must find out who is behind the document."
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan also commented on the Galant document affair prior to Sunday's cabinet meeting and said the police should investigate the matter.
"It is irrelevant whether the document is genuine or a fake. It's serious enough for both parties. I see great importance in involving the police. It’s obvious a chief of staff should not be selected in such a process," he said.
Meanwhile, the IDF has yet to issue an official statement on the matter. "Everyone's silence is annoying," a senior officer said Sunday. "There is something very problematic going on here and no one is saying anything."
Another officer told Ynet, "This is a sad morning for the army. There's a feeling that the army's image has been hurt, especially on the part of the public which suddenly sees inappropriate sides to this important institution."
Hanan Greenberg, Roni Sofer, Yoav Zitun and Aviad Glickman contributed to this report
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