(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Until the Harpaz Affair, Ashkenazi was rumored as a future contender for prime minister, being highly popular for having rebuilt the IDF after the 2006 Lebanon War, in which many thought the IDF under-performed.
Although still rumored as a potential contender for leadership of the Zionist Union party, after years of negative publicity and him being out of the spotlight, his prospects are less certain.
There are also indications that Weinstein will close the cases against other members of Ashkenazi’s high command, including his IDF spokesman Brig.-Gen. (res.) Avi Benayahu and his chiefof- staff Col. (res.) Erez Winer.
Weinstein previously closed the case against Avichai Mandelblit, the former top IDF lawyer and his successor as attorney-general as of February 1.
The Harpaz Affair was an alleged 2010 plot by Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz to illegally undermine then-defense minister Ehud Barak’s choice to succeed Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff, as part of a more general battle between Barak and Ashkenazi that involved the two sides allegedly spying and spreading misinformation about the other.
Regarding the central suspected charge Barak had brandished against Ashkenazi and the other former IDF officials, the police in September 2014 rejected any charge of a “putsch” to overthrow him as civilian superior to the IDF.
Police also rejected all charges that Ashkenazi or the others had any connection to Harpaz’s forging of the document that started the whole investigation, even adding that the investigation lent further support to their claims of non-involvement and their belief that the document was not a forgery.
Further, the police rejected any charges that Ashkenazi or the others’ actions in alleged “spying” or trying to undermine Barak rose to the level of criminality, while criticizing their actions generally as ethically problematic.
At the same time, however, the police in September 2014 recommended charging Ashkenazi with somewhat more minor and borderline charges, including two separate counts for breach of public trust and illegally revealing classified material.
The first count of breach of trust is for Ashkenazi’s delaying by some 48 hours turning over his copy of the Harpaz document to police, though he did eventually voluntarily reveal that he had it and turned it over.
The second count of breach of trust is connected to allegations that Ashkenazi illegally revealed top secret information to certain reporters in “background” conversations.
The attorney-general himself was practically pushed into the criminal investigation by former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and former IDF Magistrate Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. (res.) Danny Efroni.
At first, in 2013, he only ordered a more limited military investigation of Ashkenazi for conduct unbecoming, but continuous pressure by Lindenstrauss and Efroni following new evidence found during that military investigation eventually led to a wider criminal investigation.