Cabinet cancels Galant appointment, postpones decision on Gantz
Before Tuesday's High Court hearing, government votes to officially cancel Galant's chief of staff appointment, postpones decision on Gantz. Barak says timing of land affair reports 'not random'; Ashkenazi: I'm leaving army in professional hands
During its weekly meeting Sunday, the cabinet officially cancelled Galant's appointment to the post of IDF chief of staff, but it did not vote over the appointment of Benny Gantz as the new designated army chief. A senior IDF officer told Ynet that "Galant is fighting for his life and acting just as he would have in the army: Going all the way."
The formerly designated chief of staff had earlier presented his two-part appeal before the High Court of Justice. He requested that the judges issue an interim order to freeze the appointment process in order to allow the Turkel Committee to reconsider his appointment, which was cancelled over the Moshav Amikam land grab affair.
While Judge Elyakim Rubinstein did reject Galant's appeal for an interim order, he stated that Galant's claims against the cancellation of his appointment should be brought before high court judges, who will convene to discuss the issue on Tuesday.
But even before Tuesday's hearing, the government voted to cancel Galant appointment's. However, it chose to wait for the High Court decision before proceeding with Gantz's appointment.
Galant's decision to present the appeal a short time before the weekly cabinet, meeting which was set to present Gantz's appointment before the ministers, surprised some of senior IDF officers, including those thought to be close friends of Galant's.
Ehud Barak told his fellow ministers that Galant "would have been approved as defense minister," adding that "anyone who thinks that the delay of the land affair upheaval until recent weeks is random and unrelated doesn't know where he is living."
Minister Limor Livnat criticized the media's coverage of the affair, saying "a terrible injustice" was done the general, who she claimed was "skinned alive."
Uzi Landau was the only minister to vote against the cancellation of Galant's appointment.
Following the vote, Minister Moshe Yaalon said, "It feels as though we're on the right track again…I admire Galant, but it seems he failed in matters related to morality and abiding by the law."
One officer, who was among Galant's subordinates during Operation Cast Lead needed only three words in order to describe Galant's qualities: "Daring, persistence and resolve". He explained, "that's what drove him in the military and that is his driving force now – in the courtrooms."
Outgoing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi said Sunday that he was leaving "with a feeling of fulfillment and with the knowledge that Israel's defense is in professional hands". He then added: "I have no doubt that the IDF will continue to focus on the fundamental issues."
IDF gets ready for Gantz
In spite of the lack of an official decision, the IDF has, at least on a symbolic level, begun preparing for Gantz to become Israel's 20th chief of staff. Many voices within the IDF admitted that the system needs stability more than anything else and yet, senior commanders stated that if Galant wasn't appointed chief of staff, he should not be allowed to retire from the UDF when the stain of the land affair hovers over him.
"The complex situation created by recent events means that Galant won't be able to clear his name through the Turkel Committee," explained one commander. "Dozens of media appearances by both Galant and his friends and supporters couldn't remove the dark cloud that hangs over him. This is why it is natural and right for him to come before the Turkel Committee for a second time with all the new paperwork and documents. He needs to allow the committee to say its piece."
The same commander stressed that either way, Galant deserves credit for his many years of service, mostly at the 'tip' of the IDF, which is why he called on those responsible to give Galant a chance to leave the IDF with his head held high. Others stated that they are convinced that Defense Minister Barak still had Galant in his sights for the role of chief of staff.
And yet, they explained that despite the complicated circumstances and Barak's problematic relationship with IDF chief Ashkenazi, whose term in office Barak refused to extend, the process went ahead so quickly that Galant was deprived of his chance to appear before the Turkel Committee.
Hanan Greenberg and Attila Somfalvi contributed to the report
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