Lindenstrauss may have new facts in Galant land case

State Comptroller investigating new information about incoming chief of staff's land dealings that put his appointment in doubt.

Yoav Galant 311 (photo credit: Courtesy)
Yoav Galant 311
(photo credit: Courtesy)
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss has discovered facts regarding Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s land dealings on his moshav that were unknown to the state when it opposed a High Court petition by the Green Party against appointing Galant the next chief of General Staff, the state informed the court on Monday.
“The material that the state comptroller handed over to the State Attorney’s Office contains prima facie facts that were unknown to those who have been dealing with the subject until now, including officials in the Attorney- General’s Office and the State Attorney's Office,” the state’s representative, Einav Golomb, wrote in a brief to the court.
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Golomb added that Lindenstrauss has not completed his investigation of Galant’s appointment and therefore it is not yet certain that he has uncovered new evidence regarding Galant’s land dealings on Moshav Amikam near Zichron Ya’acov, which were the subject of the Green Party’s petition.
If it turns out that there is new evidence in the case, it could threaten Galant’s appointment. He is due to take over command of the IDF on February 14.
The Green Party petition was aimed at the Turkel Committee on senior government appointments, which was tasked with determining whether Galant was morally suitable for the job to which he had been appointed by the government on the recommendation of Defense Minister Ehud Barak. It charged that the committee had approved Galant’s appointment without seriously investigating allegations regarding Galant’s dubious land dealings on his moshav.
Based on an investigative report in Ma’ariv, the party said that Galant had built a private parking lot and two access roads to it on public land; had extended his homestead plot by 350 square meters; had received an allotment of 35 dunams (3.5 hectares) of agricultural land from the Israel Lands Authority when none of the other “late-comers” to the moshav had received any land; had unilaterally taken over an adjacent plot that did not belong to him; and had extended his private garden by “annexing” nearby public land.
During the first hearing of the petition on January 10, Golomb defended Galant and argued that the Turkel Committee had been aware of all the facts when it approved Galant’s appointment.
She said Galant had returned the adjacent plot of agricultural land to the Israel Lands Authority and that the extra 350 square meters added to his homestead was one of many mistakes made by the local authority when it drew up detailed maps of the residential area.
She also admitted to the court that she had given incorrect information about other moshav late-comers receiving the same allotment of farmland as Galant.
The court was not satisfied with Golomb’s explanations and ordered her to provide more information within 10 days regarding the 350 square meters and the 35 dunams.
On Monday, three days before the deadline, the state asked the court for permission to postpone its answer until February 1.
“The State Comptroller’s Office informed the State Attorney's Office that it was in possession of facts based on an investigation that it is conducting regarding the charges made against Maj.-Gen. Galant’s use of land in Moshav Amikam and he [Lindenstrauss] is prepared to hand them over if requested,” Golomb wrote.
“Yesterday, the state comptroller transferred the essence of the findings...The examination is still incomplete and in the working stage.”
Golomb told the court that Lindenstrauss had promised to speed up his examination regarding those issues that could influence the court’s decision on the Green Party petition.