yair naveh 311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
The High Court of Justice on Thursday rejected a petition by left-wing NGOs
requesting a temporary injunction against the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Yair
Naveh as temporary Chief of General Staff in connection to claims that he
committed war crimes when he was OC Central Command in 2006.
did, however, criticize Naveh’s statements to Haaretz in 2009 in which he was
quoted as being dismissive of earlier court decisions regarding the legality of
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At the same time, the court rejected a similar
petition requesting to cancel Naveh’s appointment to deputy chief of General
On Tuesday, following the decision by Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to cancel the appointment of Maj.-Gen
Yoav Galant as the next chief of General Staff, Naveh was picked as a temporary
replacement for 60 days, to give the government time to vet additional
candidates for the job.
The petition was based on three incidents that
took place in 2006 and 2007, in which Palestinian terrorists were killed during
The incidents became known to the public after Haaretz
journalist Uri Blau published an investigative article based on a leak he
received from Anat Kamm, who was then a soldier serving in Naveh’s
The court determined that the petitioners, which include NGOs
such as Yesh Gvul and Gush Shalom as well as individuals like former Meretz
chairwoman Shulamit Aloni and former Meretz MK Moshe “Mossi” Raz, did not
exhaust other measures of redress before petitioning the court and that the
petition itself was filed belatedly and did not meet the requirements of due
The three-justice panel accepted the state’s objections to the
petition in full.
“The petitioners failed to present us with grounds to
justify the rescinding of Maj.-Gen. Naveh’s appointment to the position of
deputy chief of General Staff,” Justice Edna Arbel wrote in her
ruling. “The request for an injunction is also denied.”
justices also ruled on the merits of the petition itself, and found it to be
groundless. The court was satisfied that the killings were properly authorized
by the military chain of command and in compliance with the law and previous
High Court rulings.
The petitioners also claimed that Naveh was
unsuitable for the job because of a comment he made to Blau during an interview,
which they say showed disregard for High Court decisions.
When asked if
the killings breached a court decision, Naveh was quoted as responding
dismissively, “Don’t bother me with High Court instructions, I don’t know when
the High Court decisions were issued and when they weren’t. I know when a
targeted killing is approved and that I receive instructions from the [IDF’s]
The justices slammed him for uttering statements
they considered unbecoming for an IDF officer and a leader to make.
[Naveh’s] pointless statements are problematic not just because they may
encourage disobedience to court rulings, but because they are liable to harm the
public’s trust in the justice system and the principle of Rule of Law, which
everyone is subject to, especially people who hold public positions,” Justice
Salim Joubran wrote.
On Tuesday, Naveh submitted a letter to the military
advocategeneral explaining the remarks he had made to Blau.
“I was quoted
as saying things that I don’t deny saying, but which were presented in the
article in a way that could be understood as my disregarding the High Court in
general and its ruling on the legality of targeted killings in particular,”
Naveh wrote. “Such a reading of the words is wrong and upsetting in my
eyes; it twists my meaning and takes things out of context.”
the cabinet is scheduled to approve the appointment of Naveh as temporary chief
of General Staff for 60 days, postponing the decision that was supposed to be
reached on Thursday, due to pressure from ministers to let Lt.-Gen. Gabi
Ashkenazi remain in the post.
Because of the temporary nature of the
appointment, Naveh will be exempt from going through the entire appointment
process, including receiving the approval of the Turkel Committee on Senior
Appointments, following an agreement between the prime minister, the defense
minister and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, who determined that the
appointment would be approved by Defense Ministry’s Legal Adviser Ahaz Ben-Ari.