Turkel. To review Galant's nomination?
Photo: Gil Yohanan
Galant. Found to have lied
Photo: Yaron Brener

Legal sources: AG won't back Galant

State committee may review nomination of IDF chief designate, found to have seized public land

Senior legal sources estimated Thursday that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein would find it very hard to defend Galant's appointment to the role of chief of staff before the High Court of Justice and will return the issue to the Turkel Senior Appointments Committee for further deliberation.


The legal sources said that now, when the State Comptroller's full report into the Galant affair will be set before the Turkel Committee, it will have all it needs in order to decide whether Galant is deserving of the role of commanding the IDF in three weeks time.


After State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss determined Thursday that the designated Chief of Staff Yoav Galant withheld the truth in depositions he signed, seized public land and only requested permits after the fact, Weinstein has three options. The first and least likely option is that Weinstein will continue to defend the Galant appointment before the high Court against the appeal launched by the 'Green Movement' over the lands affair.


The second and most realistic option is that Weinstein will alert the High Court to the fact that he is unable to defend the appointment in its current form which will put the ball back in the Turkel Committee's court; the same committee that approved Galant's appointment in the past. Though, at that time the committee was only given part of the pertinent information.


The third option is that the Attorney General announces to the government and the high court that he isn't capable of defending the appointment, and that he doesn't see a way of putting the issue back in the Turkel Committee's hands. In this case the issue is brought before the government, who will then decide whether to revoke the appointment or appoint Galant with a private attorney who will then defend him in court.


'Galant failed test of public'

Meanwhile IDF officers said they were "ashamed" of the comptroller's finding Thursday. "On one hand the things revealed by the comptroller sound bad and are not in keeping with what is expected from an officer who will soon be number one in the army ranks, but on the other hand there are many questions in this affair and we cannot cancel the nomination of a chief of staff at the last minute without answers," said one source.


But others said that if Galant is a dishonest man, it is best to learn of this now. "Galant will have to pass the test of the High Court as well as the test of the public," another officer said.


"The latter is a difficult one and it appears as though he has failed it already. But with everything that has happened since the beginning of the chief of staff race, from the Harpaz document to this affair, should sound alarms in the minds of those rushing to conclusions."


For his part, Galant has rejected the comptroller's findings, telling his associates that he did not lie and that he plans to continue preparing for the position. "I plan to continue to the end," a source quoted him as saying.


'Inappropriate behavior'

As the hours went by after the State Comptroller revealed the highlights of his findings, more and more legal sources expressed their estimation that Weinstein will find it very hard to defend the appointment in its current form.


"There is no doubt that the Comptroller's statements bear witness to Galant's inappropriate behavior. As it seems right now, the issue is extremely complex and the Attorney is aware of the responsibility – both public and legal – which rest on his shoulders," the sources noted.


Lindenstrauss didn't state that General Galant's mistakes were made maliciously. And yet he determined that there is no question that Galant seized lands that were not his own and withheld the truth in two depositions. In a court writ Galant claims to have requested construction permits before the building work was carried out when he actually requested the permits after the fact.


In one case, in a letter from February 2003, written and signed by Yoav Galant and addressed to the agricultural department of the Israel Land Administration in Haifa, he asked to plant olive trees on a patch of land on his grounds, which he received in 2001 for seasonal cultivation. The letter notes that "the aforementioned land has been worked for the past few years." The Comptroller stated that in fact, the land wasn't being worked by Galant.


Weinstein is expected to decide by February 1 whether he will continue to defend Galant's appointment for IDF chief of staff or express support for a recent petition that was filed at the High Court of Justice, which aims to block the appointment. He is expected to focus on the issue over the weekend. Next week, the Justice Ministry will hold a meeting in which Weinstein, the State Prosecutor Moshe Lador, senior prosecution officials and other sources involved in the affair will discuss how to proceed.


Galant's attorney, Dori Klagsblad, is set to present Weinstein with explanations regarding the discrepancies found by the comptroller in his report.


In response to the comptroller's statement that Galant requested and received the construction exception permits, which allowed him to build a private road at the expense of public land, only after the construction was completed, sources close to Galant said: "The question isn't when he received the permits but whether any deviations in the use of the land occurred. Beyond that, it is important to remember that people lie in order to gain something. What exactly did Galant gain from this? Sometimes mistakes that occur due to impreciseness or faulty wording happen – that is what we have in this case."


Hanan Greenberg contributed to this report


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פרסום ראשון: 01.28.11, 01:00
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