NGOs file petition to freeze Naveh appointment

By RON FRIEDMAN
February 3, 2011 04:51

Anti-occupation activists turn to High Court asking to prevent gov't from appointing Yair Naveh as temporary chief of General Staff.

4 minute read.



Yair Naveh

yair naveh 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Anti-occupation activists turned to the High Court of Justice on Wednesday, asking for a temporary injunction preventing the government from appointing Maj.-Gen Yair Naveh as temporary chief of General Staff once current IDF chief Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi completes his term on February 14.

The petitioners – including NGOs Yesh Gvul and Gush Shalom, and left-wing former MKs Shulamit Aloni and Moshe “Mossi” Raz – maintain that while he was head of the IDF’s Central Command in 2006, Naveh committed war crimes by authorizing targeted killings of Palestinian terrorists, in violation of a court ruling.

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On Tuesday, following the decision by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to cancel the appointment of Maj.-Gen Yoav Galant as chief of General Staff, Naveh was picked as a temporary replacement for 60 days, to give the government time to vet additional candidates for the job. The formal decision on the appointment is expected Thursday.

On Monday, the court held a hearing on a separate petition by the same parties, which called on the court to rescind Naveh’s initial appointment as deputy chief of General Staff.

In both that petition and the one filed Wednesday, the petitioners argued that Naveh had knowingly ignored a High Court directive forbidding such targeted killings and that therefore his appointment should be frozen, at least until the court reached a decision on the core petition.

The petition was based on three incidents that took place in 2006 and 2007, in which Palestinian terrorists were killed during IDF operations. The incidents became known to the public after Haaretz journalist Uri Blau published an investigative article based on a leak he received from Anat Kamm, who was then a soldier serving in Naveh’s office.

The petitioners also claimed that Naveh was unsuitable for the job because of a comment he made to Blau during an interview, which they claim showed disregard for High Court decisions.

When asked if the killings breached a court decision, Naveh was quoted as responding dismissively, “Don’t bother me with High Court instructions.”

“The fact that this man [Naveh] contravened a High Court decision shows that he lacks a basic understanding of democratic values,” said Yoav Hass, a leader of Yesh Gvul. “Flouting High Court decisions is far worse than anything Galant may have done on his estate in Amikam. If he [Galant] was found unsuitable for the job, then Naveh is far less suitable, and the court must freeze his appointment.”

Hass said his chief grievance was with the defense minister, who had decided on the appointment. He added that the whole procedure of appointing Naveh, first to the role of deputy chief of General Staff and then to the role of temporary chief of staff, had been unreasonably rushed and failed to go through appropriate channels of due process.

“Naveh was brought back to the military, after two years in the civilian sector, and appointed to a high-ranking post in what was the speediest appointment in the nation’s history,” said Hass. “One day he was a civilian, and the next day the IDF Spokesman announced his appointment as deputy chief of General Staff. There was no chance for any objections to be voiced.”

In its response to the original petition, the state argued that it should be dismissed out of hand for several reasons, the first of which was the petitioners’ failure to take their objections to the relevant bodies prior to petitioning the court. Furthermore, the court had dismissed similar claims against other appointments in the past.

The state also said that the incidents in question had been thoroughly investigated by the military and found by the attorney-general to be in compliance with the law and the High Court decision on the matter. These incidents, therefore, did not provide grounds for canceling the appointment, the state said.

“The operation plans went through all the steps required for IDF approval, including discussions with the head of the Central Command at the time (Maj.-Gen. Naveh), then with the commander of the Operations Directorate at the time, and finally with the chief of General Staff. Summaries of operational discussions prior to approval of the operation clearly indicate that the operation was planned and approved while taking into consideration High Court ruling 769/02 and its guiding principles,” the state’s response read.

The state went on to argue that two of the three incidents had taken place before the High Court even issued its decision on targeted killings, and therefore were irrelevant to the case.

On Tuesday, Naveh submitted a letter to the Military Advocate-General explaining the remarks he had made to Blau.

“I was quoted as saying things, which I don’t deny saying, but which were presented in the article in a way that could be understood as my disregarding the High Court in general and its ruling on the legality of targeted killings in particular,” wrote Naveh.

“Such a reading of the words is wrong and upsetting in my eyes; it twists my meaning and takes things out of context,” he continued.

“As an Israeli citizen and a soldier, I respect the High Court and its rulings. As a military commander, I believe that High Court rulings are not subject to deliberation.

That’s how I acted then, as chief of the Central Command, and that is how I act today.”


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