State comptroller ordered to give up more Harpaz affair documents
High Court justices set a potential timetable for the final report on the affair, which Lindenstrauss announced he intends to try to publish before he leaves office on July 3.
The High Court of Justice Monday ordered State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to hand over more material related to the so-called Harpaz affair to Col. Erez Weiner, and gave Weiner three weeks to respond to the comptroller's draft report on Weiner's part in the scandal.
The justices thus set a potential timetable for the final report on the affair, which Lindenstrauss announced he intends to try to publish before he leaves office on July 3.
According to the draft report, released three months ago, Weiner, then-aide to former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, coordinated communication with Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz, who is suspected of forging a document meant to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant from being appointed Ashkenazi's successor. Weiner is not suspected of the actual forgery, but Lindenstrauss says Weiner instructed Harpaz to collect defamatory information about Defense Minister Ehud Barak and others.
The affair is the basis of a battle between Ashkenazi and Barak over the past two years.
The High Court's ruling on Monday came in response to Weiner's request that Lindenstrauss hand over all relevant material, so that he can properly defend himself. The justices ruled that Lindenstrauss must turn over relevant documents about the case, though they left it to his discretion to decide precisely which ones are included in that category.
A state comptroller's representative told the court that the materials would be given to Weiner over the next three days.
Some say Weiner is stalling so that Lindenstrauss will not be able to release the final report before he leaves office. If that happens, the report would be handed over to the next comptroller, Joseph Shapira, but public interest in the matter might wane by then.
Although Lindenstrauss had objected to Weiner's demand that he receive more documents, his office has already handed over a fairly large amount of material, apparently in hopes that it would lead Weiner to withdraw his petition, which would allow the comptroller to release his final report on time.
The comptroller's attorney, David Libai (who represented Lindenstrauss privately, after Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein declined to defend him in this petition ) proposed that the justices give Weiner two weeks to respond after receiving the documents. Libai quoted a letter IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz wrote to Lindenstrauss, in which Gantz said the report should be published as soon as possible, in order to clear the air in the IDF.
The justices decided to give Weiner three weeks to respond.
Ashkenazi, who has yet to submit his response to the draft report, is also reportedly waiting for documents that the state comptroller's office had promised to deliver.
Weiner still has one card left to play: His attorney, Oded Savorai, has announced that he is considering another petition to the High Court, demanding that Lindenstrauss recuse himself because an exchange of letters between Weinstein and Lindenstrauss has revealed the latter's bias against Weiner.
Others named in the draft report are also now demanding to receive relevant documents, including Yoni Koren, Barak's bureau chief.
Lindenstrauss' office has expressed concern that such requests will snowball and lead to another delay in releasing his final report.