Turkel C'tee to question PM, Barak and Ashkenazi in August

Hearings will be first working meeting open to public since commission officially got under way.

Netanyahu looking over shoulder 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Netanyahu looking over shoulder 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Turkel Commission is due to question Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi in early August, commission spokesman Ofer Lefler said Tuesday.
The hearings will be the first working meeting open to the public since the commission officially got under way with a ceremonial session on June 28. The commission made it clear at the time that it would not reconvene until it could question the three witnesses.
Netanyahu will appear before the commission on August 9, followed by Barak on August 10 and then Ashkenazi on August 11.
The hearings will take place at the commission’s permanent headquarters at the Yitzhak Rabin guest house in Jerusalem on Rehov Avigad.
According to a statement issued Tuesday, the commission is currently reviving and studying the necessary documents as part of its preparations to hear the testimony by the three leaders. It is also completing technical preparations, including recruiting the professional and administrative staff necessary to begin its work.
Since the commission’s first meeting, its powers have been significantly broadened. Originally, it was not a statutory entity, and the prerogatives granted to it by the government did not tally with those spelled out in the Government Law, which provides for government-appointed committees of examination, or the Commission of Inquiry Law, which defines the powers of commissions appointed by the president of the Supreme Court.
At first, the Turkel Commission was not empowered to order witnesses to appear before it or to make them testify under oath. However, in response to a threat by Turkel to resign, the cabinet agreed to grant the commission the powers invested in government-appointed committees of investigation.
The only exception was that Turkel was still prohibited from questioning soldiers and security officers.
However, in a decision on Monday, the High Court said that should the commission reach a point in its deliberations where it found it necessary to question soldiers or security officers and the government refused, it could return to the court on the basis of a petition filed by the left-wing political organization Gush Shalom.