The Turkel Committee that vets senior appointments is scheduled to meet Tuesday
to review the nomination of Maj.- Gen Benny Gantz for the job of chief of
General Staff, after the cabinet – in an acrimonious meeting Sunday during which
Defense Minister Ehud Barak (Independence) traded recriminations with a number
of ministers – voted to rescind the nomination of Maj.-Gen. Yoav
The cabinet vote was 26 to 1, with two ministers absent. National
Infrastructures Minister Uzi Landau (National Union) cast the lone dissenting
Gov't votes to cancel Galant's appointment to IDF chief
Court rejects Galant appeal as PM explains Gantz decision
Galant appeals cancellation of IDF chief appointment
The cabinet meeting took place shortly after the High Court of
Justice rejected an appeal by Galant, in which he asked to freeze the
appointment process while his petition to the High Court against the
cancellation of his appointment as army chief was being
Justice Elyakim Rubinstein, however, did not issue an interim
order that would have frozen the process and said instead that Galant’s claim against the cancellation of his appointment would be brought
before High Court justices on Tuesday.
Thus the appointment process for
Gantz will be allowed to continue. It is considered most unlikely that the court
would foist a chief of General Staff on the government, after the government
itself rejected him.
At the outset of what was described as a stormy
cabinet meeting, Netanyahu addressed the saga over the Galant appointment,
saying, “The stability of the IDF is always important, but it is much more
important now given the deep shocks in our region.”
As a result, he said,
he decided with Barak to push forward Gantz’s nomination.
expressing appreciation for Galant’s long years of service, and sympathy for his
disappointment at not getting the job, Netanyahu said he needed to make “clear
decisions” on the matter “to lift the cloud of uncertainty from the IDF senior
Gantz, Netanyahu said, has all the qualifications needed for
the army’s top job.
“He is an experienced commander and an excellent
officer. He has all the qualities and all the necessary experience to be
an excellent IDF Chief of General Staff.”
After his comments, the gloves
came off, with various ministers sharply criticizing Barak for his handling of
the appointment, and Barak responding in kind.
The harshest attacks came
from Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), a former chief of General
Staff who sees himself as a future defense minister.
He defended outgoing
IDF chief Gabi Ashkenazi from Barak’s recent attacks against him, accusing the
defense minister and his staff of running a systematic campaign against
Ashkenazi that included leaks, smears and briefings to journalists.
chief of General Staff is under attack by the defense minister’s bureau and we
must defend him,” Ya’alon said. “We cannot allow his blood to be
Ya’alon said his heart went out to Galant even though he
failed an ethical test and did not abide by the law. He said the ministers were
aware of the circumstances of the public land he confiscated near his house in
Moshav Amikam when they approved his appointment last year, and that was why he
at the time requested that a decision not be made hastily.
“I realized we
had an IDF chief with a cloud over his head,” Ya’alon said. “It is still an open
question why we were pressured to appoint Galant despite the charges against
Barak said that the media coverage of the land scandal which led to
the cancellation of Galant’s appointment was not a coincidence but was part of a
larger plan to torpedo his ascendance to the top army post.
and allegedly forged “Harpaz Document,” Barak said, was the first attempt to
take Galant out of the race and that, after that failed, the land scandal was
purposely brought back to life in the final weeks before Galant was scheduled to
replace Ashkenazi, who steps down next Monday.
“Whoever thinks that the
blowing up of Galant’s land issue just weeks before he was to be appointed was a
coincidence does not know where he lives,” Barak reportedly said.
criticized his fellow ministers for blasting Galant in the media.
completely inappropriate for a minister to call a serving general in the IDF a
mafioso,” Barak said in reference to a statement made last month by Likud
Minister Michael Eitan. “We need to restrain ourselves.”
know that if Galant was running to become defense minister or strategic affairs
minister with the same house and the same land affairs, then the
attorney-general would have been asked a different question: Was there a legal
problem? And in this case, Galant would have been found suitable to serve as a
minister,” Barak said.
Regional Development Minister Silvan Shalom
(Likud) said Barak’s decision to bring Galant’s appointment to a vote months ago
without telling the ministers in advance was very problematic.
the only minister who voted against cancelling Galant’s appointment, called it a
gloomy day for the political, legal and media echelons in Israel.
accused the media of “orchestrating a public lynching of Galant” and politicians
of being “too afraid to stand behind what they believe in.”
shocked by the behavior of the prime minister and defense minister in the entire
episode,” Landau said. “They chose Galant and they should have stood by him.
They knew all along what they know now. It was wrong to cancel their
decision and to let the court intervene. They shouldn’t be
Meanwhile, Ashkenazi said Sunday that following the decision to
appoint Gantz, he felt he was leaving the IDF in “responsible and professional
“I am leaving with a feeling of satisfaction and I have no doubt
that the IDF will continue to do what is important to protect the State of
Israel,” Ashkenazi said during a farewell visit to Central Command headquarters
in the capital’s Neveh Ya’acov neighborhood.