Galant document to be probed promptly

Decision on next chief of General Staff delayed by attorney-general.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
August 9, 2010 04:53
3 minute read.
Yoav Galant

Galant. (photo credit: Courtesy)

 
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The Israel Police’s International Crimes Division will begin questioning senior IDF officers immediately in an effort to quickly determine who was behind a document that appeared to indicate that strategist Eyal Arad was advising OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant in the latter’s effort to be selected IDF chief of General Staff.

The document, bearing the logo of Arad Communications, proposed a public relations campaign for Galant that would create a positive image for him and negative images for current Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi and another potential Ashkenazi replacement, Deputy Chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz.

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Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein ordered the police to initiate an expedited inquiry due to the sensitivity of the matter. He told Defense Minister Ehud Barak that he could continue interviewing candidates for chief of General Staff but that he could announce his nomination only after the inquiry was completed. Ashkenazi completes his term as IDF commander in February.

Sources close to Barak expressed disappointment that whoever had been behind the document succeeded in delaying the appointment of the next chief of General Staff. Barak said he was convinced that the authenticity of the document and who was behind it could and should be determined as quickly as possible.

Barak interviewed Gantz for the IDF’s top job on Sunday, and will speak to the IDF’s attache in Washington, Gadi Shamni, on Monday to complete a round of interviews with five candidates. The General Staff is to convene on Monday in a meeting expected to be tense due to the investigation.

The police team, led by Cmdr. Yaron London, will first examine Arad’s allegations that the document was forged. Arad filed a complaint at the Hayarkon police station on Sunday morning and continued to insist he had no connection with Galant. Galant himself canceled a tour of a base in the North that had been set for Sunday. He wrote a letter to Ashkenazi in which he distanced himself from what he called a despicable libel and malicious defamation.



“I have no connection to this episode,” Galant said. “I didn’t see the document, I wasn’t aware of it, and I haven’t been in touch with Eyal Arad. Someone tried to entrap me and to use improper means to prevent me from competing fairly for [the post of] chief of General Staff. I didn’t hire Arad and I didn’t consult with him. It’s a forgery.”

Ashkenazi released a statement calling it unfortunate that “issues and acts that cause great damage to the IDF and the public’s faith in it are interfering with the important and sensitive process of choosing the chief of General Staff.”

He pledged that the IDF would cooperate with any investigation and expressed hope that the truth would come to light as soon as possible.

The nature of the material in the document makes it look like it was written by someone in the IDF who was intimately involved in the intricacies of running the army.

Kadima MK Nahman Shai, who had requested the investigation, praised Weinstein for complying with his request immediately and for calling upon Barak not to appoint a new army chief until the investigation was complete.

He called upon Barak to take Weinstein’s advice and freeze the appointment.

“This is not the way to choose a chief of General Staff, whether the document is authentic or not,” Environment Minister Gilad Erdan told reporters outside Sunday’s cabinet meeting. “The truth must come to light, because we need to know that the person who decides the fate of our sons does not do such things.”

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