Barak defends appointing deputy chief of staff

A-G questions timing of move ahead of elections; Barak says he had to wait for clearance of Eizenkot ties to Harpaz affair.

DEFENSE MINISTER Ehud Barak 370 (photo credit: REUTERS)
(photo credit: REUTERS)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak defended on Tuesday his appointment of Maj.- Gen. Gadi Eizenkot to the position of deputy IDF chief of staff.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein earlier questioned the timing of the decision.
Weinstein asked Barak to explain why the appointment was made during an election season. The criticism came soon after the attorney-general issued guidelines to the government to avoid major appointments ahead of elections in order to avoid a conflict of interests.
A letter Barak is due to send Eizenkot argued that the appointment of a deputy chief of staff is of vital importance to the state at this time.
Barak added that he was forced to wait until now to move ahead with the appointment, as he need to be sure that Eizenkot, 52, was cleared of any connection to the Harpaz document scandal.
The Harpaz affair centered on a fake document that was allegedly drawn by former intelligence officer Lt.-Col.
(res.) Boaz Harpaz, to damage the reputations of senior IDF officers. A final report on the affair, drawn up by the state comptrollor, was received by Barak recently, and made no mention of Eizenkot, thereby paving the way for the appointment.
Speaking to Army Radio on Tuesday, former justice minister Daniel Friedmann said that Barak’s decision was legal and appropriate.
The Basic Law on Government explictly says that the state requires a continuously functioning government, meaning that a serving government can carry on with its activities until it is replaced, Friedmann said.
Friedmann noted that then-prime minister Ehud Olmert set out on a major military operation in Gaza (Operation Cast Lead) before an election in 2009, while Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu did the same last month, as proof that the appointment of a senior defense official was proper.
“If a government can declare a war during elections, it can certainly make appointments during this time,” Friedmann said.