(photo credit: GIDEON MARKOWICZ)
Will illegal construction be the downfall of yet another general? Right-wing NGO
the Center for the Land of Israel sent a letter to Attorney-General Yehuda
Weinstein on Monday, asking him to revoke the appointment of Maj.-Gen Benny
Gantz as IDF chief of General Staff.
RELATED:Court rejects Galant’s request to stop Gantz
appointmentFamily of fallen soldier considers petition against
GantzAn unexpected promotion to the top for the son of
The group’s lawyer, Aviad Visoly,
claimed that like the former candidate for the job, Maj.-Gen Yoav Galant, Gantz,
too, had committed building violations around his house.
A copy of the
letter was also sent to Judge Ya’acov Turkel.
Visoly wrote that in
October 2009, Gantz had erected a patio deck on public-owned land adjacent to
his house in Rosh Ha’ayin and built a supporting concrete wall without the
Gantz only tore down the illegal construction in
March 2010, after receiving several warnings from city authorities and after
news of the illegal construction was published in the media, Visoly
Last March, the Hebrew daily Yisrael Hayom ran a series of
articles about Gantz’s illegal construction. On March 10, it reported that
demolition of the illegal deck and supporting wall had been completed to the
The Center for the Land of Israel argued that Gantz
should be prosecuted for his actions like any other citizen, and noted that
“there is no substantial difference between the offenses that Gantz allegedly
committed and those allegedly committed by Galant and because of which Galant’s
appointment as the chief of General Staff was canceled.”
appointment to the role of IDF chief was canceled after a state comptroller’s
investigation determined that he had appropriated state lands and lied about it
to the authorities.
“It is unacceptable that a person who allegedly
committed criminal construction offenses be appointed to lead IDF forces who
enforce the very same laws against civilians,” Visoly wrote. “It goes contrary
to the principle of equality, the duty to be free of conflicts of interest, and
The group claimed that as head of the military,
the chief of staff was responsible for demolishing hundreds of structures in the
West Bank for building violations and that it would be impossible to live with
the double standard.
Visoly said he had complained about the alleged
violation to the chief military prosecutor in the past, requesting an
investigation into the matter, but had been told there was no link between
Gantz’s private affairs and his service in the IDF.
Speaking to The
Jerusalem Post, Visoly said he had no ties, personal or political, with Galant
or anybody else who might wish to see Gantz out of the running. He also said he
was unconcerned by the possible harm that might come to the army or the state if
Gantz’s appointment fell through.
“The army will continue functioning no
matter what happens to this or that general,” he told the Post. “In the
worst-case scenario, the current chief of staff will continue in his post for a
little longer. It is important that appointments be conducted according to the
law. There is no justification for compromising on legality for anyone. Maybe in
this way our leaders will understand that the law cannot be
Visoly added that after hearing what the Justice Ministry had
to say on the matter, his group would decide whether or not to petition the High
Court of Justice.
The Justice Ministry said it had received the letter,
but did not say whether Weinstein planned to act on it.
Also on Monday,
Galant’s lawyers asked the High Court to withdraw the petition they had filed on
Sunday asking for an interim injunction to prevent the government from canceling
his appointment and choosing Gantz instead.
Galant had argued that only
the Turkel Committee could reject his candidacy. However, the court denied the
request for an interim injunction on Sunday, paving the way for the government
to choose Gantz for the position.
Following Galant’s request on Monday to
withdraw his petition, and in light of the government’s Sunday decision to
cancel his appointment, the court decided to throw out the original petition
against him by the Green Movement as being no longer relevant.