Former IDF Chief of Staff Lieutenant General (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi adamantly rejected Wednesday claims made by former Defense Minister Ehud Barak in a deposition he gave to the Tel Aviv District Court in regards to the Harpaz affair. According to the former IDF chief, all the claims made by Barak have already been examined and rejected in the past.
At the beginning of August, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to expand the military investigation into the Harpaz affair and ordered a criminal police investigation against those involved – namely Ashkenazi and his aide Erez Weiner – who are both suspected of breach of trust.
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Through his lawyers Sharon Kleiman and Michael Naor, Ashkenazi published a statement: "Yesterday (Tuesday), Barak filed a deposition, in which he repeated the same claims already raised and rejected by two state comptrollers in hopes that yet another examination by yet another official will yield a different result. Which we believe will not happen."
According to his lawyers, then-State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss "explicitly decided that there was no coup by former IDF chief of staff and that Ashkenazi was not involved in torpedoing Yoav Galant's appointment to the position of IDF chief of staff nor in the creation, forging or leaking of the (Harpaz) document, a decision he made after reviewing hundreds of hours of recordings from Ashkenazi's bureau. Barak's obsessive repeating of claims against Ashkenazi, which were examined and rejected, are representative of his conduct as defense minister in his relations with the chief of staff."
In his response, Ashkenazi tried to return the spotlight to Barak's conduct against him, as was described in the comptroller's report.
"The state comptroller found serious problems with the defense minister's conduct in regards to his ties with the IDF chief of staff, including a string of unfit actions which harmed the army, such as postponing a number of officer appointments for more then a year. It is only fitting that the (former) defense minister offer some sort of explanation for his inappropriate actions in his deposition instead of recycling claims. We expect that during the investigation, the actions of the defense minister which effective damaged the army be examined as well."
In his deposition, Barak commented on the comptroller report, but, needless to say,he reached different conclusions from those reached by Ashkenazi.
"The comptroller report clearly showed that at the heart of this story stands a group of senior officers, a number of citizens and reserve officers, headed by then-IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi, who acted in an unfitting manner to prevent the lawful appointment of an IDF chief of staff as well as working against the political echelon, all the while embracing allegedly criminal behavior, like forging a document, collecting disparaging information about the political echelon and senior IDF officers and obstructing justice – all in complete contradiction to the law, the army's rules and the ethics and norms of the IDF's spirit," Barak's deposition read.
The former defense minister also claimed in his deposition that the timing of the document's leakage to the press was no coincidence. "The interested parties, headed by the IDF Chief of Staff Ashkenazi held on to their document for months and made sure to pass it onto the media only a few days after the defense minister began holding interviews with potential candidates for the chief of staff position," he wrote.
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