Legally and ethically, Galant cannot hold the top IDF post

Analysis: Should Weinstein decide to defend Galant against the petition, it is the High Court which will have the final say.

Galant with flag 311 (photo credit: IDF)
Galant with flag 311
(photo credit: IDF)
On the face of it, there is no question from a legal and ethical point of view: Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant cannot become Israel’s next commander-in- chief.
The allegations against him that emerged from State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s report on Thursday are much too serious to let his appointment stand.
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Legal experts seemed to agree that the most serious charge was that Galant lied when he signed a sworn affidavit saying he had asked for permission to add 40 square meters to his home in Moshav Amikam before he went ahead and built them.
Lindenstrauss found that Galant had first built the addition and only then asked for permission.
This is a very common “planning” tactic in Israel, but one that is not fitting for someone who presumes to lead the army.
More serious, of course, is the fact that Galant lied about the facts to the court.
Former minister and MK Tzachi Hanegbi also lied to the head of the Central Elections Committee when he told him he did not write an article boasting that he had made dozens of political appointments. The Jerusalem Magistrate’s Court not only convicted him of perjury for that lie, but also ruled that the crime involved moral turpitude.
Lindenstrauss also found other serious examples of improper behavior on Galant’s part. Whether or not all or some of them would be considered crimes by a court of law, none of them is fitting for the chief of staff of the IDF.
Lindenstrauss did not say outright that Galant was not the man for the job, although in some instances, he hinted that he thought the behavior of the chief-of-staff-designate was unacceptable.
Nonetheless, he rightfully left the decision to the attorney-general, and Yehuda Weinstein must be the one to make the call. To take it one step farther, Weinstein is also the man who, on the basis of the state comptroller’s findings, must decide whether or not to order a criminal investigation of some of the matters uncovered by Lindenstrauss.
Barring unforeseen circumstances, it seems likely that Weinstein will choose not to defend Galant in the High Court of Justice against the Green Movement petition demanding that the appointment be overturned.
Galant, it was still clear on Thursday night, has not given up hope that he will become the next chief of staff. His lawyers are apparently preparing new arguments to refute Lindenstrauss’s findings.
He has only a few days to persuade Weinstein that the state comptroller was wrong. In theory at least, without knowing what, if any, legal arguments he still has in his arsenal, Galant could still convince the attorney-general to continue defending him in court.
But it should also be kept in mind that the attorney-general is not the final judicial instance in this matter. Should Weinstein decide to defend Galant against the petition, it is the High Court which will have the final say. As Weinstein well knows, the court is likely to be even harder to convince.