Final draft of 'Harpaz affair' report submitted to Ashkenazi, Barak
Report expected to place much of the blame for misconduct in affair on former IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi; gag order on contents of report still in effect.
The final draft of the state comptroller's report on the Harpaz affair was given to the major figures involved Thursday evening.
The report reflects the latest conclusions of former State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss on the intrigue that has roiled the defense establishment for over two years. In the previous draft, Lindenstrauss implied that former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi was responsible for much of the misconduct, and this conclusion is not expected to change significantly.
After receiving the draft report, those under investigation will be given only a few weeks to respond. The law was changed to allow Lindenstrauss three months after he left office in early July to complete work on the case, but it still looks as if new State Comptroller Joseph Shapira will be the one to submit the final report on the affair.
The court-ordered gag order on the contents of the draft report is still in effect, and the State Comptroller's Office refuses to comment in any way on the report. But the this draft's conclusions are expected basically to line up with those in the first draft, which was circulated to those involved in the investigation in March, and which included harsh criticism against Ashkenazi and his former aide Col. Erez Weiner. Ashkenazi's nemesis in the affair, Defense Minister Ehud Barak, sustained only minor criticism from Lindenstrauss in the early versions of the report.
The affair gets its name from Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, who allegedly plotted to prevent Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant's appointment as chief of staff, including the circulation of a forged document on Galant's efforts to be named to the post.
Barak, his chief of staff Yoni Koren, Ashkenazi and Weiner - the major characters in the affair in addition to Harpaz - all received the draft report Thurdsay evening. In addition, IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Benny Gantz and Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Danny Efroni received copies, as did Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Lindenstrauss and Efroni both spoke out recently on the need to open a criminal investigation into the matter, but Weinstein strenuously objected. Now the attorney general may have little choice but to reconsider his stance in light of the conclusions of the new report draft. Police chief Yohanan Danino recently said in an interview with the Walla! website that he would not be surprised if such a criminal investigation was opened against some of the principals in the affair.
The Harpaz affair erupted in August 2010 when Channel 2 published the document about Galant - which at the time was considered authentic by the media and Ashkenazi. Only later was it discovered to be a fake and that Harpaz, who was close to Ashkenazi, was allegedly behind it. According to earlier drafts of the state comptroller's report, Weiner is suspected of having ordered the collection of defamatory information against Barak as part of the affair, which led to the cancellation of Weiner's appointment as the IDF's chief education officer and his promotion to brigadier general.
The wording of Lindenstrauss' draft report implies that Ashkenazi also knew of Weiner and Harpaz's actions against Barak.