galant - Oliver Fitoussi  - February 1 2011
Yoav Galant. Photo by Oliver Fitoussi
Text size
Rimon Shenkman
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Photo by Rimon Shenkman

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will inform the High Court of Justice today as to whether he sees any legal barrier to Yoav Galant's appointment as the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff.

The court is considering a petition by several environmental organizations that want Galant's appointment withdrawn because of his unauthorized takeover of state lands near his home in Moshav Amikam. Four weeks ago the justices asked Weinstein to provide explanations regarding two issues, which he will do today.

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.

Weinstein and other senior Justice Ministry officials discussed his response deep into the night last night, and various views were expressed.

Some of those present favored asking the Turkel Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, to reconsider Galant's candidacy in light of the new material that has come to light since it approved the appointment. The committee did not have access to much of the material in Lindenstrauss' report. This option would essentially annul the cabinet's decision to appoint Galant, but would not preclude either the Turkel Committee or the cabinet from reapproving the appointment.

Other officials, however, argued that Weinstein should take a moral stand on Galant's conduct and deem his appointment inappropriate. That would preclude him from representing Galant in court.