After extensive deliberation and much controversy, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein notified Prime Minister Netanyahu Tuesday that he cannot defend Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant's appointment as chief of staff due to legal impediments.
Galant was designated to succeed IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi this month, however, his appointment has been delayed due to allegations that he seized public lands near his Moshav Amikam home in northern Israel.
Four weeks ago the justices asked Weinstein to provide explanations regarding two issues, which he did Tuesday.
The first issue involves an error on the map of Galant's plot at Amikam, which extended his property by 350 square meters at the expense of public land. The justices want to know the steps that have been taken to correct the error and the timetable for putting everything right.
The second concerns another 35 dunam parcel that was allotted to Galant and the erroneous information provided about it by the state in connection to an early High Court petition, from 2008.
Since last month's hearing State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss issued his own report on the issue of Galant's land, in response to a complaint by Improvement of Government Services Minister Michael Eitan. Lindenstrauss concluded that Galant had been less than truthful in two documents - an affidavit submitted to the High Court on his behalf and a letter in his own handwriting to the Israel Lands Administration. Weinstein's submission to the court will thus also have to relate to these findings.
A press release issued by the Justice Ministry on Sunday stressed that Weinstein is examining only whether the allegations against Galant constitute a legal barrier to his appointment. The attorney general is not considering the appropriateness of the appointment, as that is the province of other government agencies, the statement said.
Despite Weinstein's ruling, it is highly unlikely that the Attorney General's ruling will put an end to the Galant controversy. Many senior political officials believe that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Galant himself will continue to fight for the major general's appointment.
Netanyahu and Barak have made it clear that they will not revoke their endorsement of the chief of staff designate unless the court unequivocally rules that Galant cannot be appointed chief of staff.
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