High Court refuses to postpone start of Galant’s term

Turkel panel: We evaluate candidates solely on the material presented to us.

January 19, 2011 11:43
3 minute read.
High Court refuses to postpone start of Galant’s term

yoav galant 224.88. (photo credit: IDF)

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday removed a major obstacle from Maj.- Gen. Yoav Galant’s path to head the IDF when it rejected a Green Movement request for an interim injunction to postpone his succession to office until the court ruled on its petition to cancel the appointment.

However, Justice Esther Hayut left the door open for a possible reconsideration of the request in the coming days.

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Galant is due to be sworn into office on February 14.

In a terse ruling, Hayut wrote, “At the present time, we did not see any reason to issue the interim injunction as requested.” She did not elaborate.

Meanwhile, the Turkel Advisory Committee on Senior Appointments issued a statement defending itself from a spate of allegations that it did not seriously examine the question of Galant’s personal integrity when it approved his nomination as army chief.

These allegations have increased in number and volume since the High Court began hearing the Green Movement’s petition on Galant’s conduct in a number of land affairs on his moshav, Amikam, and the news that State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss had found new information regarding these affairs that had been unknown to the State Attorney’s Office, which is defending his appointment against the petition.

“The advisory committee is not a commission of inquiry,” the committee wrote in a statement released by the prime minister’s media adviser. “It does not have the necessary tools to conduct investigations and it is not authorized to do so. It formulates its opinion based solely on the material presented to it.”

The four-member committee was made up of retired Supreme Court justice Jacob Turkel, former justice minister Moshe Nissim, former Civil Service commissioner Shmuel Hollander and former MK Gila Finkelstein.

According to the statement, the committee began to evaluate Galant’s appointment on the basis of a questionnaire that he filled out, and interviews with Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gaby Ashkenazi and Galant himself.

The committee wrote that it had already heard about the land issue, which had already been reported in the media and was a matter of public discourse. “The committee did not suffice with the aforesaid questionnaire and requested further information,” the statement continued.

“These were received when the candidate’s representative found a folder of documents from which it arises that all of the matters had been concluded.”

Furthermore, the committee asked for Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein’s opinion on the matter and on the so-called Galant Document, the forged document that was written to influence the appointment of Ashkenazi’s successor.

According to the statement, the committee also studied the documents dealing with the compromise reached in magistrate’s court over land disputes involving Galant in Moshav Amikam. It stressed that the court itself had suggested the compromise after the judge had visited the site.

Galant was accused of paving a private parking lot and two access roads to it on public land.

The committee added that none of those interviewed about Galant’s appointment, nor Weinstein, felt that he should be disqualified because of the affair. In sum, it stated that “the committee noted that as it was dealing with the appointment, it considered all the material that had been brought to its attention at the time, and if facts or new documents arose after it had rendered its opinion, the committee could not have referred to them.”

Earlier in the day, the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel called on Weinstein to establish a committee of investigation headed by a retired judge to examine the roles of the ministry of justice, the attorney-general and the Turkel Committee, to understand “how they had failed as watchdogs.”

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