Galant appeals cancellation of IDF chief appointment

IDF maj.-gen. requests court put out order to freeze appointment process to allow Turkel C'tee second opportunity to debate his appointment; Barak, Netanyahu set to appoint Gantz as 20th IDF chief of General Staff.

February 6, 2011 10:05
4 minute read.
IDF Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant.

Galant 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s office)

Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant on Sunday appealed to the High Court of Justice against the cancellation of his appointment as the next IDF chief of General Staff.

Galant requested that the court issue an order that will freeze the appointment process, giving the Turkel Comittee a second opportunity to discuss his appointment as IDF chief.

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Galant wrote in his petition to the High Court that the government does not have the authority to cancel his appointment to IDF chief of General Staff.

The authority to cancel or approve appointments to the position lies solely with the Turkel Committee, according to the petition.

The government is expected to cancel Galant's appointment Sunday morning following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to appoint Maj.- Gen. Benny Gantz as the 20th IDF chief of general staff.

In a move aimed at stabilizing the IDF, Barak and Netanyahu presented the appointment of Gantz, who served until three months ago as the deputy chief of staff, to the cabinet earlier Sunday.

In the race to replace Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, Gantz originally lost out to Galant, who has since been forced to forfeit his nomination due to the land affair connected to his home in the town of Amikam in northern Israel.

Gantz’s appointment will first be presented to the Turkel Committee and, if cleared, will be presented to the cabinet for final approval.

The appointment is not expected to run into opposition since Gantz has all the necessary qualifications to serve as the chief of General Staff. He has served as head of the Northern Command, head of the Ground Forces Command, the IDF’s attaché in Washington DC, and also as deputy chief of staff, making him the most veteran general still in service.

Barak said that he believed Gantz was the right candidate to “stabilize the military establishment and lead the IDF to counter the various challenges it faces.”

Gantz’s main contender for the post was OC Northern Command Maj.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, who reportedly told Barak to appoint Gantz to the post. Eizenkot will likely take a year off and then return to the IDF to replace Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh as the next deputy chief of staff, making the two of them the main candidates to replace Gantz in three years.

If he is approved by the Turkel Committee and the cabinet, Gantz will take up the post on February 14 in place of Ashkenazi, whose tenure Barak decided not to extend. Barak had initially planned to present a proposal to appoint Naveh as the interim chief of staff, but withdrew the idea after coming under major political and public criticism.

The one obstacle Gantz could face is Galant, whose appointment was nixed last week by Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein. On Friday, Galant gave a number of interviews on news stations claiming that he still believed he would be the chief of staff.

“When the cabinet meets on Sunday, I think they will consider all of the different parameters and make the right decision,” Galant said on Channel 2.

If the cabinet decides to cancel Galant’s appointment, the former head of the Southern Command could stillappeal to the High Court of Justice and demand that his appointment remain in place.

Vice premier Moshe Ya’alon fiercely attacked Barak’s handling of the appointment of the next IDF chief of General Staff on Saturday, accusing him of harming the country and “losing his mind.”

In an interview on Channel 2’s Meet the Press program, Ya’alon said Barak appointed Galant in a way that was too hasty. He also defended outgoing IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi from Barak’s attacks on him.

“If the situation got to be that bad, why was the cabinet not told so we could decide to fire him?” Ya’alon said. “Barak’s behavior indicates that he is losing his mind by declaring a war on Ashkenazi that does not have a reason I am aware of. Their relationship harms the security of the country.”

Vice premier Silvan Shalom spoke to Barak on Saturday and told him that while he thinks Galant would have been a terrific chief-of-general-staff, he would vote for Ganz, because he believes it is important to appoint a permanent chief for the IDF. He came out against appointing a temporary commander on Thursday.

Shas chairman Eli Yishai said his party would only vote for Ganz if it is clear that his appointment would pass all legal obstacles by the time Ashkenazi’s term ends on February 14. He said that if not, he would ask for Ashkenazi’s term to be extended.

“The stability of the IDF in such troubled times must be above any consideration,” Yishai said.

Deputy Negev and Galilee Development Minister Ayoub Kara called on Saturday for the formation of an advisory committee that would interview future IDF chiefs and make a recommendation to the cabinet.

Speaking at a conference of former officers, he said that such a committee, which would be made up of retired generals and judges, could stop the politicization of the IDF.

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