(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s office)
The High Court refused on Sunday to issue an injunction that would order the
government to suspend the cancellation of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s appointment as
chief of General Staff.
Galant filed the petition early on Sunday
morning, hours after Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced he had chosen
Maj.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz for the post, and a short time before the
cabinet was scheduled to rescind his appointment.
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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein decided that Galant could not fill the
position due to what he deemed to be insurmountable legal and moral difficulties
he would have faced in defending Galant’s appointment before the High Court of
In the petition, Galant, represented by attorneys Shira Donevich
and Prof. Menachem Mautner, argued that only the Turkel Committee on Senior Appointments,
and not the cabinet, could reject his appointment if the reasons had to do with
his moral or ethical suitability for the job.
“The authority to cancel an
appointment, like the authority to approve an appointment, belongs to the Turkel
Committee alone,” Galant’s lawyers wrote in the petition.
They also wrote
that since Galant understood the urgency of the need to appoint a new chief of
staff, he had no objection to the Turkel Committee examining other candidates
recommended by the government for the job simultaneously.
In other words,
Galant wanted to block the government’s plan to revoke his candidacy, even if
the government were to nominate others alongside him.
the justice on duty early on Sunday morning, immediately asked the state to
respond to Galant’s request to suspend all cabinet decisions regarding the post
of chief of General Staff until the court ruled on the merits of his
The state responded a few hours later, calling on the court to
reject Galant’s request for an interim injunction and saying there was no need
to reconvene the Turkel Committee to consider his nomination, because the
government had concluded that appointing Galant to lead the army would not be
“In the opinion of Barak and Netanyahu, under the
circumstances, it is imperative to decide today on the candidate, who is due to
take up the post in eight days,” Weinstein wrote.
“The government has the
right to return the matter to the Turkel Committee, but there is no law
preventing it from cancelling its former decision...based on the facts
presented by the attorney-general. The government is not chained to the
decisions of the Turkel Committee.”
Rubinstein rejected Galant’s request
for an interim injunction, paving the way for the cabinet to revoke his
appointment and approve Gantz instead. He scheduled a hearing on the petition
itself for 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Gantz faces a possible legal
challenge of his own. The family of Cpl. Madhat Yusef, the 19-year-old
border policemen from Beit Jann who was killed by Palestinians in 2000 while
guarding Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, has threatened to petition the High Court
against Gantz’s appointment.
Gantz was the commander of the Judea and
Samaria Division at the time and the family holds him responsible for not
rescuing Yusef in time to save his life.
“He [Gantz] did nothing at the
time, neither during nor after the event, despite the fact he was 600 meters
away from Madhat,” Madhat’s brother Mehdi told reporters. “Whoever assumes this
role must be a responsible and honest person who can overcome anything, and not
run like Gantz did.”
Madhat’s family has petitioned the High Court in the
past in an effort to have another investigation of his death. In 2003, the court
rejected such a petition, having determined that the military investigation that
cleared Gantz and other officers of wrongdoing had conducted a thorough and