Barak. 'A joke'
Photo: AFP
Mofaz. 'Galant must be given chance to defend himself'
Photo: Ohad Zwigenberg

MKs: Barak driven by personal obsession

Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee discusses failed appointment of IDF chief of staff, discovers there is no legal definition for 'temporary replacement' for army chief. MK Ben-Eliezer: Defense minister undermining Israel's security. MK Mofaz: Ashkenazi must stay on for now

Defense Minister Ehud Barak was slammed Wednesday by Knesset members from almost all factions at the start of a Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee meeting over the way he handled the failed appointment of Major-General Yoav Galant as Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.


"How is it possible that an officer, a major-general in the IDF, who has been serving in the army for 34 years and has given all his life to the State, is being called a mobster and thrown out like the last criminal?" asked Committee Chairman MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima).


During the meeting, the committee members discovered that there is no legal definition for a "temporary replacement" for the IDF chief of staff. In order to Naveh to assume duty, he will have to undergo all legal procedures applying to an IDF chief of staff.


The Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee is considering summoning Galant next week. Mofaz, a former defense minister and IDF chief himself, turned to Barak and to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and said, "Galant must be given the possibility to defend himself.


"I am against the personal persecution campaign being held against Galant and regret the norms of the struggle, which have become part of the murky landscape at the General Staff. Galant's remarks about a field trial still ring in my ears," he added.


Like other committee members, Mofaz harshly criticized the decision to appoint Major-General Yair Naveh as a temporary replacement and called on the government to cancel the appointment and remove "all the components of ego and personal accounts" from the IDF chief selection process.


According to Mofaz, "Undoubtedly, there is no room for a replacement. A decision about the 20th chief of staff must be made now, and current Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi must be allowed to stay on until a new chief of staff is selected."


MK Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, another former defense minister and until recently Barak's partner at the Labor Party, criticized the defense minister as well. "It's just like him, so I'm not surprised. However, I am surprised that the prime minister accepted what Barak dictated.


"We all see what is happening in Egypt and in other countries. No one knows what will happen there tomorrow. There is a turbulence and increased Islamization, and this decision cannot be disconnected from what is happening in our sphere. The defense minister's decision undermines Israel's security and all because of the personal obsession of a person who decided not to extend Ashkenazi's term due to irrelevant considerations."


Ben-Eliezer said he shared Mofaz's opinion that Galant had suffered injustice. "I regret the fact that because of a system's stupidity as person had to pay a heavy price after serving Israel for 34 years."


'Barak acting like a hooligan'

Labor Secretary-General MK Eitan Cabel, joined the condemnations. "What is this? Labor Party primary elections? Is the party's secretary-general being replaced? Barak is acting like a hooligan, and what I am saying here point blank is that political questions must not be involved in this.


"We are talking about a security matter. I don't sleep well at night and I think all of us should not sleep well. There is no balancing power today between the prime minister and defense minister, who adore each other. No one is even talking about Yair Naveh. What is happening here is crazy, it's a joke, and this is one of the most dramatic periods in the region."


MK Robert Ilatov, chairman of the Yisrael Beiteinu faction, joined the criticism on the way the latter was handled legally.


"What we see here is a war of generals, and we must ask questions about the timing and the state comptroller's inquiry: Why wasn't it checked beforehand? Why is it that the legal systems knew about the law and the problem in the past and left the case to this moment? This is what the comptroller must look into, why did everyone wait for 'the right moment' and didn't look into the matter on time?"


Defense Minister Barak responded to the criticism by recommending that some of the committee members "practice restraint and avoid being swept to incitement."


He said he would be ready to meet with the committee members early next week and "brief them on the developments in the Galant appointment and on the considerations which led to the appointment of Major-General Yair Naveh as acting IDF chief of staff for a short period that won't exceed 60 days."


AG: It wasn't an easy decision

Meanwhile, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said Wednesday morning that he was "at peace" with his recommendations that led to the cancellation of Galant's appointment as IDF chief of staff.


"I haven't spoken to Major-General Galant. It wasn't an easy decision," he told Ynet.


Retired Judge Ya'akov Turkel, chairman of the committee for senior civil service appointments, defended his controversial decision to approve Galant's appointment. "The attorney general did not have reservations about the appointment; on the contrary, if I'm not mistaken, he even wrote that there is no legal obstruction to appoint Galant," Turkel told Israel Radio Wednesday.


"The lesson is that Israeli media is capable of sinking to lows I didn’t know existed. I can only say I think it's a terrible thing that someone who served the country with such dedication in so many posts is ousted due to attacks by the media," he said.


State Prosecutor Moshe Lador addressed the affair as well, saying that "the decision speaks for itself. The attorney general made a decision which was published and speaks for itself. The procedure was conducted in an extensive manner in the past weeks and days. Any such decision requires taking many things into account. There were deliberations, and the attorney general eventually made a decision."


Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 02.02.11, 11:29
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