Lindenstrauss to question Galant on land seizure

Deputy state prosecutor admits, "There might have been some mistakes in the handling of the Galant investigation."

By
January 22, 2011 21:55
2 minute read.
OC SOUTHERN Command Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant.

Galant 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

 
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Just weeks before he is scheduled to become the next commander of the IDF, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant will be questioned by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on Sunday amid allegations that he illegally seized land near his home in Moshav Amikam.

Galant has been designated to replace Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi on February 14, but there is a possibility that the appointment will be delayed.

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On Thursday, Galant’s attorneys submitted written responses to the comptroller, and Galant is scheduled to be personally questioned regarding the affair. Suspicions are that he illegally seized the state land and then lied about it in a subsequent legal battle with his neighbors.

The State Attorney’s Office has come under fire for representing Galant in the ongoing legal proceedings before the High Court of Justice, and in light of the new information obtained by Lindenstrauss, Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to decide later this week if his office will continue to do so.

“There may have been some mistakes in the handling of the Galant investigation,” Deputy State Attorney Shai Nitzan told Channel 2’s Meet the Press on Saturday.

Justice Ministry spokesman Moshe Cohen said the appointment could be delayed, or even shelved, depending on the outcome of the comptroller’s investigation.

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Government Services Minister Michael Eitan, who voted against Galant’s appointment, said the government should have investigated the matter more thoroughly before appointing him.

“The process should havebeen open, not superficial and hasty while ignoring suspicions,” Eitan said in a statement.

Sources close to Galant have claimed that he is the victim of a “witch-hunt” that started with the publication of the so-called Galant Document, forged by a former IDF officer who was discovered to have close connections with current army chief Ashkenazi.

If Weinstein and the High Court decide to delay Galant’s appointment until they can complete a thorough investigation into the allegations, Defense Minister Ehud Barak will need to choose a temporary chief of staff to serve in the interim between Ashkenazi’s retirement and a final decision on the Galant case. Chances that Barak will ask Ashkenazi to remain in the post are deemed slim due to the acrimony between the two men.

One possibility is that Barak will ask Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh, the current deputy chief of General Staff brought back from retirement to serve under Galant, to hold the post in a caretaker status until the legal establishment makes a final decision on the case.

Other possibilities are that Barak will ask a former chief of staff to return to the post for a period of several months.

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