(photo credit: TWITTER)
The end is near for one of the security establishment’s greatest controversies in history, which at one point embroiled two IDF chiefsof- staff, a defense minister, another minister and the current attorney-general.
The arraignment of Boaz Harpaz for forging a document known as the Harpaz Document was postponed Tuesday, but the hearing in the Tel Aviv District Court did clarify officially that the only issue holding up a plea bargain for Harpaz, the mid-level retired IDF officer who gave the Harpaz Affair its name, is negotiations with the Defense Ministry about how long he will need to wait after being convicted before he can return to defense consulting work for them.
In February, Channel 2 reported that Harpaz might be close to a deal with the prosecution to admit to the forging of the Harpaz Document.
The alleged deal would see Harpaz convicted of forgery and sentenced to six months of community service. At the same time, Harpaz reportedly was concerned about returning to consult for the Defense Ministry after years of suspension.
Until Tuesday, however, neither Harpaz’s lawyers nor the prosecution had officially confirmed that the issue holding up the deal was the Defense Ministry-work issue.
At Tuesday’s hearing, Harpaz’s lawyers confirmed this, informing the court that understandings with the prosecution on a deal were advanced, but that “there are some elements not dependent on either the prosecution or the defense team” – meaning how long the Defense Ministry will maintain Harpaz’s suspension from security-industry consulting.
The Harpaz Affair dates back to August 2010, resulting from fighting between then-defense minister Ehud Barak and former IDF chiefof- staff Gabi Ashkenazi over a variety of security issues and powers.
Eventually, the sides even allegedly spied on each other, and Harpaz initiated an elaborate plot to use the forged Harpaz Document to undermine Yoav Galant, Barak’s first choice to succeed Ashkenazi as IDF chief, but who Ashkenazi opposed.
Galant, a decorated major-general lost the race for IDF chief, partially due to scrutiny brought on by the affair. Eventually, however, he became construction minister in the current government as a member of the Kulanu party.
Before Harpaz was finally indicted in October 2016, the police had recommended indicting Ashkenazi, current Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit (back when he was the prime minister’s cabinet secretary) and former IDF chief spokesmen Avi Banayahu, and criminally investigated Barak and questioned current IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.- Gen. Gadi Eisenkot, who was involved in the affair in an ancillary manner.
Ultimately, all the top officials were cleared by then attorney-general Yehuda Weinstein, but the stain of the affair almost blocked Mandelblit from becoming attorney-general and many say it ended or harmed Ashkenazi’s once rosy prospects in politics. Only Harpaz himself was indicted.
According to Tuesday’s hearing, the saga may finally end with Harpaz’s plea deal in mid-June once the Defense Ministry has clarified his work status.