Michael Eitan, the improvement of government services minister and the only minister who insisted on a thorough investigation of the affair that ultimately led to the withdrawal of Yoav Galant's nomination as Israel Defense Force chief of staff, welcomed the move yesterday. Eitan called it a step that will strengthen both the army and Israeli society as a whole, and reduce the influence of personal connections and preferential treatment of people in positions of power.
Eitan (Likud ) said the withdrawal of the nomination was essential in light of what he called the "very serious findings" involving Galant's conduct, adding that Galant's acts were not carried out innocently. He described them as "inappropriate acts that he carried out and an exploitation of his military ranks."
Eitan added: "The attorney general [Yehuda Weinstein] could not have decided otherwise based on the difficult findings that the state comptroller [Micha Lindenstrauss] made in the investigation of the case. I read the comptroller's report in full. The only circumstance in which the attorney general could have allowed the appointment of Galant would have been if he had uncovered new findings conflicting with the comptroller's findings, and that didn't happen."
The chairman of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, MK Shaul Mofaz (Kadima ), who is himself a former IDF chief of staff and defense minister, said he opposed the appointment of Yair Naveh as temporary chief of staff. Mofaz said instead of Naveh taking the post on a temporary basis, the current chief of staff, Gabi Ashkenazi, should remain in office beyond his scheduled retirement on February 14 until a permanent replacement is appointed. Mofaz announced that he would convene an emergency meeting of the Knesset committee today, following the withdrawal of Galant's nomination.
Labor MK Amir Peretz, who also served as defense minister, called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak to extend Ashkenazi's tenure rather than appoint Naveh on a temporary basis.
On moshav Amikam, where Galant's use of land ultimately derailed his nomination as chief of staff, residents expressed disappointment when reports began to surface yesterday that the attorney general would not defend Galant's nomination.
Alon Tal, acting chairman of the Green Movement, which petitioned the High Court of Justice against the process of Galant's appointment, said: "We welcome this important day for the rule of law, in which a high moral bar was put in place for senior security appointments."
Tal also said the information about Galant's conduct had been in the press in recent years, and that several complaints had been filed. "We regret that despite all the information, a High Court petition was necessary ... and after four and a half months, led the State of Israel in this sensitive time to instability in the IDF, and the post and functioning of the chief of staff has been harmed."
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