High Court to NGO: You got AG to criminally investigate Harpaz Affair so drop your petition

Two NGOs victorious in their push for the attorney-general to widen the criminal investigation into the Harpaz Affair.

High Court of Justice 370 (photo credit: yonah jeremy bob)
High Court of Justice 370
(photo credit: yonah jeremy bob)
The High Court of Justice on Wednesday declared two NGOs victorious in their push for the attorneygeneral to widen the criminal investigation into the Harpaz Affair, advising them to drop its petition.
But the two groups argued they were still not satisfied since the investigation was still limited in charges and suspects.
No decision was issued, but it was expected that the court would either temporarily dismiss the petition, the court considering it irrelevant having already achieved its objectives, or to essentially freeze the petition indefinitely pending any new major developments.
The Forum for the Rule of Law in Israel and OMETZ, the Movement for the Quality of Government in Israel, also complained to the court that the slow pace of the investigation and the public pressure on Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, which was a prelude to his decision to widen it, raise severe doubts about how long it will continue to drag and whether criminal charges are seriously being considered.
The Harpaz Affair refers to an alleged plot by Lt.-Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, and possibly others, to illegally undermine former defense minister Ehud Barak’s choice to succeed former IDF chief-of-staff Gabi Ashkenazi as part of a more general battle between Barak and Ashkenazi involving both sides allegedly spying and spreading misinformation about the other.
The background which the NGOs frequently fell back on to criticize Weinstein was that for months, Weinstein refused to order any investigation into any of the major individuals involved. These included Barak, Ashkenazi and some of their aids, despite being repeatedly pushed to do so by former state comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss.
When Weinstein finally permitted an investigation to go forward in January, he limited it to Ashkenazi and his top aid, Col. (res.) Ezer Viner and only for a military investigation into possible conduct unbecoming, but with no more serious civilian charges.
For months there were public indications that Military Advocate-General Maj.-Gen. Danny Efroni was pushing for widening the investigation to include more serious criminal charges, but that Weinstein was still resisting.
When Weinstein finally ordered a wider investigation into Ashkenazi and Viner’s conduct in August, the public perception was that he had done so under pressure from the officials mentioned as well as the current petition before the High Court.
Though the High Court clearly believed that the NGOs achieved their primary objective and that there is no reason for them to continue their petition, the NGOs object to the fact that neither Barak nor any of his aids are under investigation.
They also object that even as Weinstein included the possibility of more serious charges against Ashkenazi and Viner, there was no explicit possible charge matching Barak’s allegation that Ashkenazi was behind the Harpaz Affair and was attempting a “putsch” against Barak as his civilian superior on matters of defense policy.
Essentially, the state and the court responded that since the investigation was only recently broadened and has not yet concluded, it is still possible that it will be broadened further to satisfy the NGOs’ additional issues, making any court intervention before that time premature.