Court rejects Galant’s request to stop Gantz appointment

New candidate faces possible legal battle over soldier’s death at Joseph’s Tomb in 2000.

Galant 311 (photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s office)
Galant 311
(photo credit: IDF Spokesperson’s office)
The High Court refused on Sunday to issue an injunction that would order the government to suspend the cancellation of Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s appointment as chief of General Staff.
Galant filed the petition early on Sunday morning, hours after Defense Minister Ehud Barak announced he had chosen Maj.-Gen. (res.) Benny Gantz for the post, and a short time before the cabinet was scheduled to rescind his appointment.
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Last Tuesday, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein decided that Galant could not fill the position due to what he deemed to be insurmountable legal and moral difficulties he would have faced in defending Galant’s appointment before the High Court of Justice.
In the petition, Galant, represented by attorneys Shira Donevich and Prof. Menachem Mautner, argued that only the Turkel Committee on Senior Appointments, and not the cabinet, could reject his appointment if the reasons had to do with his moral or ethical suitability for the job.
“The authority to cancel an appointment, like the authority to approve an appointment, belongs to the Turkel Committee alone,” Galant’s lawyers wrote in the petition.
They also wrote that since Galant understood the urgency of the need to appoint a new chief of staff, he had no objection to the Turkel Committee examining other candidates recommended by the government for the job simultaneously.
In other words, Galant wanted to block the government’s plan to revoke his candidacy, even if the government were to nominate others alongside him.
Elyakim Rubinstein, the justice on duty early on Sunday morning, immediately asked the state to respond to Galant’s request to suspend all cabinet decisions regarding the post of chief of General Staff until the court ruled on the merits of his petition.
The state responded a few hours later, calling on the court to reject Galant’s request for an interim injunction and saying there was no need to reconvene the Turkel Committee to consider his nomination, because the government had concluded that appointing Galant to lead the army would not be “appropriate.”
“In the opinion of Barak and Netanyahu, under the circumstances, it is imperative to decide today on the candidate, who is due to take up the post in eight days,” Weinstein wrote.
“The government has the right to return the matter to the Turkel Committee, but there is no law preventing it from cancelling its former decision...based on the facts presented by the attorney-general. The government is not chained to the decisions of the Turkel Committee.”
Rubinstein rejected Galant’s request for an interim injunction, paving the way for the cabinet to revoke his appointment and approve Gantz instead. He scheduled a hearing on the petition itself for 2:30 p.m. on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, Gantz faces a possible legal challenge of his own. The family of Cpl. Madhat Yusef, the 19-year-old border policemen from Beit Jann who was killed by Palestinians in 2000 while guarding Joseph’s Tomb in Nablus, has threatened to petition the High Court against Gantz’s appointment.
Gantz was the commander of the Judea and Samaria Division at the time and the family holds him responsible for not rescuing Yusef in time to save his life.
“He [Gantz] did nothing at the time, neither during nor after the event, despite the fact he was 600 meters away from Madhat,” Madhat’s brother Mehdi told reporters. “Whoever assumes this role must be a responsible and honest person who can overcome anything, and not run like Gantz did.”
Madhat’s family has petitioned the High Court in the past in an effort to have another investigation of his death. In 2003, the court rejected such a petition, having determined that the military investigation that cleared Gantz and other officers of wrongdoing had conducted a thorough and comprehensive examination.