Could Ganot's appointment be rejected?

Analysis: Dichter, Olmert knew that his appointment would never be approved.

Yaakov Genot 298.88 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Yaakov Genot 298.88
(photo credit: Channel 10)
Internal Security Minister Avi Dichter's choice of Yaakov Ganot to head the police force is so improbable that it has already yielded a conspiracy theory that would do justice to the political machinations of Machiavelli. According to this theory, Dichter and Prime Minister Ehud Olmert knew that, given Ganot's run-in with the law in the early 1990s, his appointment would never be approved. Either it would fall in the Turkel committee, responsible for examining the appropriateness of nominees to senior civil service jobs, or it would be rejected by the High Court of Justice in the wake of the inevitable flood of petitions against the appointment. Once that happened, Dichter would be able to install Cmdr. Mickey Levy, who has already been nominated as deputy chief of police, to the top position. Why go through all this rigmarole instead of appointing Levy directly? Because everyone knows that Levy is a close friend of Olmert, and Olmert does not want to be seen putting his own man in the job, given that the police are already investigating criminal suspicions against him in the Bank Leumi tender, and may soon begin investigating Olmert's purchase of his Cremieux Street home. Although there is no point in trying to second-guess the High Court, there is no question that based on past precedents, there is a realistic chance that the court will accept the petitions against Ganot's appointment. The court has already established a precedent for rejecting government nominees on what are essentially moral grounds. That precedent was established when Yossi Ginossar was nominated director-general of the Ministry of Housing. Ginossar, who spent most of his career in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), was found to have lied on one occasion to the courts regarding Izzat Nafsu, and on another occasion to the Hazorea Committee, established to investigate who killed two of the Palestinian hijackers of Bus No. 300 who had been captured alive. No charges were ever brought against Ginossar. Nevertheless, the High Court accepted a petition against his appointment on the grounds that he was unsuitable to hold such a senior government position. Ganot came close to being convicted of serious crimes, including accepting bribes, fraud and breach of faith. With regard to one of the bribery charges, justice Eliezer Goldberg wrote, "I cannot deny that I found much that was reasonable in the arguments of the state's representative against the facts of the case as determined by the lower court. It is possible that had I been one of the judges in the lower court, I would not have made the same decision that they did. Even they wrote regarding the third charge that 'the theory presented by the suspects [i.e. Ganot and Subhi Tanus] is to be found on the thin line between what is reasonable and what is not. In order to accept it, one must stretch the tests of reasonableness and logic to the extreme.'" Regarding the charge that Ganot had used a policeman to babysit for his nine-year-old son, drive the child to destinations on two separate occasions and go to his home to see whether workers who were supposed to install an electric gate had arrived, Goldberg wrote that he had to determine whether Ganot's actions constituted a violation of the criminal code or were "only" disciplinary infractions. Goldberg sharply rejected the lower court's assertion that the charges against Ganot in this matter were absurd. "We are not dealing with absurd charges but with the honesty of police officers and the need to prevent them from exploiting their subordinates," he wrote. Nevertheless, he concluded that the actions constituted disciplinary infractions rather than criminal acts. It is true that Ganot was not convicted of criminal deeds. But such a conviction requires evidence of guilt beyond reasonable doubt. This criteria is much stricter than that needed to convict a person of administrative violations that could lead to his dismissal from the job he holds. These less stringent criteria are the ones the High Court may use in deciding whether Ganot is suitable to hold the post of chief of police.