Court demands details on Galant’s real estate improprieties

Judges hear petition filed by Green Party against appointment of Galant to IDF chief of General Staff because of moral aspects of his conduct.

Galant 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Galant 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The High Court of Justice on Monday gave the state 10 days to explain what steps had been taken to correct the error by which 350 square meters of public open space were included in the Moshav Amikam homestead belonging to incoming IDF chief of General Staff Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant.
The court also instructed the state to explain why Galant had been given 35 dunams of agricultural land, unlike any of the other “late-comers” who settled in the moshav, and why the state had erred in its response to a previous petition, when it said that Galant wasn’t the only one who wasn’t a founder or descendant of a founder to receive such an allotment.
The panel of three justices – headed by Esther Hayut and including Uzi Fogelman and Yitzhak Amit – was hearing a petition filed by the Green Party against the appointment of Galant, who is due to begin his term on February 14.
However, the Green Party and several of its members have asked the court to revoke the government’s September 5, 2010, decision to appoint Galant and to order the Turkel Committee, which recommended that he be appointed after determining that he was a suitable candidate from an ethical point of view, to reconsider the matter.
“We are arguing that in a substantial and vital way, the committee did not investigate the moral aspect of Galant’s conduct,” the Green Party’s attorney, Nadav Appelbaum, told the court. “The [missing] facts are part of the problem, and the committee should have referred to them in its opinion.”
According to the law, the Turkel Committee must examine the ethical conduct of candidates for key positions, including chief of General Staff, and submit a recommendation that the government must take into account before deciding on the appointment.
The petitioners charged that Galant had acted improperly in his land dealings with the moshav by building a parking space for his family on open green space, paving a 10-m.- wide, 40-m.-long access road to the parking space over what had been a narrow public road designated for pedestrian traffic only, and planting trees and extending his private garden onto public open space adjacent to his homestead. Furthermore, a local authority map of his homestead included 350 sq.m. of land that was actually designated as public open space.
The Israel Lands Authority had given Galant 35 dunams of land, which none of the other late-comers had received. In addition, Galant had annexed another 28 dunams of an adjacent area that did not belong to him.
When the matter was revealed, he was ordered to leave the area. He did so, but only after three years.
The state’s representative, attorney Einat Golomb, argued that all of these facts had been known to the Turkel Committee when it declared that Galant was ethically suited to the job.
“The committee had a broad basis of information, including details on all the issues, as well as statements and decisions made by the authorized bodies that dealt with these matters,” said Golomb.
But the justices were not convinced and demanded to know what Galant had done to correct his problematic conduct.
“According to the petitioners, there is someone who systematically seizes control of 28 dunams of land and still hasn’t settled the issue of the 350 sq.m. of land that he was supposed to,” said Fogelman.
“There is also the affair of the trees planted on public open space adjacent to Galant’s homestead. I would like you to explain all this.”
Regarding the 350 sq.m.
“annexed,” in a local property map, to Galant’s homestead, Golomb said many such errors had been made and the moshav planned to solve all of them in one plan.
With regard to the 35-dunam plot, Golomb said the Israel Lands Authority had authorized the allotment and declared that there was nothing wrong with it. As for the parking space and the pedestrian road that had been turned into a private access road, Golomb said Galant was not using them, although he had not restored them to their original state.