Harpaz Affair / Former Ashkenazi Aide Aims to Stall Comptroller's Report

Court to hear Erez Weiner's request for access to all material from probe.

The Harpaz affair has been reduced to an emotional brawl between State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss and Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. But the High Court justices who will be hearing the petition by Col. Erez Weiner on Monday will have to decide on a matter that is more important than that battle of egos. Their ruling is expected to influence the manner in which the tangled strings of this case - related to a possible attempt to influence the appointment of an Israel Defense Forces chief of staff through a document allegedly forged by Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz - will at long last be tied up.

IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz has referred to the case, which precipitated his appointment as Gabi Ashkenazi's successor, as the "stench of a corpse" wafting in from the General Staff.

Weiner, who previously served as Ashkenazi's assistant, filed a High Court petition demanding that Lindenstrauss hand over all the information discovered in his investigation of the scandal. According to the draft comptroller's report, released three months ago, Weiner coordinated the contact with Harpaz, who is suspected of forging a document meant to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant from being appointed chief of staff.

Though Weiner is not suspected of the actual forgery, Lindenstrauss determined that Harpaz - on Weiner's instructions and with at least the partial knowledge of Ashkenazi - systematically collected defamatory information about Defense Minister Ehud Barak and others. Weiner's argument before the High Court is simple: The comptroller's findings about him are wrong, but to defend himself and exert an influence on the final report, he needs to see all the investigative material.

Lindenstrauss has said that's not accepted practice and that revealing all the material would be a breach of faith between the comptroller's office and the witnesses in this case, as well as making it more difficult to conduct similar investigations in the future.

All the same, Lindenstrauss has given in to Weiner and handed over what he says is an unprecedented amount of investigative material. But Weiner said it wasn't enough and refused to drop the petition.

In addition to the fight to see the material, Weiner is also waging an undeclared campaign with two objectives: undermining Lindenstrauss' standing and deploying stalling tactics. Lindenstrauss' term ends on July 3, so the whole messy affair could be handed over to his successor, Joseph Shapira, by which point the public interest in the affair is likely to diminish. That would also benefit Ashkenazi, the only involved party who has yet to submit a response to the draft comptroller's report.

If the High Court does not adopt Lindenstrauss' position Monday, the State Comptroller's Office - and, essentially, the search for truth in the Harpaz affair as a whole - will have suffered a double defeat: the comptroller's final report won't be released in the foreseeable future, and new suspicions won't be investigated.