'Criminal probe request for Harpaz Affair premature'

High Court of Justice rejects government watchdog petition against Barak, Ashkenazi, Weiner and Harpaz.

Harpaz 311 (photo credit: Channel 10)
Harpaz 311
(photo credit: Channel 10)
The High Court of Justice rejected on Monday a petition by government watchdog Ometz, who asked the court to order a police investigation into the so-called Harpaz Affair.
The court said the petition was premature.
The Harpaz Affair, named for Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, concerns the appointment of former OC Southern Command Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant as chief of staff.
Harpaz allegedly forged a document that detailed a strategy on how to appoint Galant.
Galant was appointed to the post but in the end lost the job over a land scandal he was involved in at his home in Moshav Amikam.
Ometz filed the petition last month against defense minister Ehud Barak, former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, his former aide Erez Weiner, and Boaz Harpaz.
“It is 18 months since the State of Israel was shaken by this unprecedented affair,” Ometz said in the petition, noting that the comptroller’s draft report into the matter had revealed “serious allegations of criminal offenses including destruction of evidence, false testimony, bribetaking, and exposure of classified material.”
In rejecting the petition outright, the panel of justices – Esther Hayut, Isaac Amit and Zvi Zilbertal – said the watchdog had turned to the court too soon.
Zilbertal said Ometz had based its petition on State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss’s draft report into the matter, which Lindenstrauss passed to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in May.
The government watchdog wrote to Weinstein on June 7, then filed the petition just four days later, the justice said.
Zilbertal said that Ometz should wait for a reasonable period to allow the authorities to deal with the case before approaching the High Court for relief.
The court noted that it does not usually interfere with law enforcement agencies regarding criminal investigations and prosecutions, except in extraordinary cases.
In this case, Zilbertal said, Ometz should wait until Weinstein makes a decision on the matter.
The court ordered Ometz to pay NIS 15,000 in court costs.
Lindenstrauss is expected to publish the final report into the Harpaz affair in the coming months.
The state comptroller initially intended to release the report before he left office on July 3, but was delayed after Col. Erez Weiner, aide to former chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi, petitioned the High Court asking that Lindenstrauss turn over to him all relevant material in the case.
Lindenstrauss’s draft report sharply criticized Ashkenazi and Weiner, who allegedly obtained the forged document from Harpaz.
Last month, the High Court imposed a temporary gag order on testimony given to Lindenstrauss’s office regarding the Harpaz affair, which will remain in place until after the report is published.
Some accused Weiner of deliberately stalling the Harpaz report’s publication, so that Lindenstrauss would not be able to release it before his retirement.
Last month, however, the Knesset passed a law extending Lindenstrauss’s tenure by three months, to allow him to complete the Harpaz probe.
The Justice Ministry opposed the legislation, calling it unconstitutional.