Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant - Olivier Fitoussi - Jan. 23, 2011
Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant leaving the office of State Comptroller Lindenstrauss in Jerusalem on Jan. 23, 2011. Photo by Olivier Fitoussi
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Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant spent four hours yesterday testifying before the State Comptroller's Office to refute accusations that he improperly seized public land adjacent to his home on Moshav Amikam.

Galant, who is expected to be formally appointed as the next Israel Defense Forces chief of staff on February 1 and take office February 14, said he did not lie to the authorities or enjoy any improper benefits.

He blamed any irregularities on difficulties between the Israel Lands Administration and the moshav board. His statements came in response to a draft comptroller's report on the matter that was submitted last week.

Galant refused to answer reporters' questions on his way in and out of the meeting yesterday; his friends and associates also kept largely silent.

All the same, they did say they were convinced the documents Galant shared with State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss would go a long way toward causing Lindenstrauss to modify the final draft of the report in Galant's favor.

The state comptroller is expected to present Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein with his findings this week, possibly even tomorrow.

Weinstein, who before February 1 must file a response to a High Court of Justice petition filed against Galant's appointment, is not expected to try to derail the appointment unless Galant is found to have lied to the state prosecution or the Turkel committee on senior government appointments.

Filed by the Green Party, the petition calls for Galant's disqualification as a candidate for IDF chief, based on an investigative report by Maariv journalist Kalman Liebeskind that alleged Galant had taken over public land near his home.

The petition argues that the Turkel committee did not thoroughly examine the report's findings before approving Galant's appointment. In the past, however, this has not been the sort of issue considered damaging enough to disqualify someone from heading the military.

Galant's friends and former colleagues from the General Staff made media appearances yesterday to speak out against the attack on him.

The image depicted by the media is" very different from that of the Yoav Galant I know," El Al CEO Eliezer Shkedy, a former commander of the Israel Air Force, told Israel Radio.

The Turkel committee issued a statement on Wednesday saying the panel does not have the necessary tools to conduct an investigation.

"The committee is authorized to give its opinion based only on the material submitted to it," the panel said.