Tension at the top
Dozens of people, including senior Israel Defense Forces officials, have given depositions to the police in connection to the Galant document affair.
Dozens of people, including senior Israel Defense Forces officials, have given depositions to the police in connection to the Galant document affair. They include Defense Minister Ehud Barak's bureau chief, Yoni Koren, as well as IDF Spokesman Avi Benayahu (albeit only once and not three times as was erroneously reported ) and Col. Erez Weiner, aide to IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi. As far as it is known, the three were not questioned under caution.
Among other questions the police investigators are asking these figures is who, in the higher reaches of the General Staff, knew about the document before the story broke in the media. Last week it was reported that GOC generals knew of its existence many weeks before Channel 2 television aired the story. The question is whether a copy of the document also made its way to Ashkenazi's office, and if so then why wasn't the issue not handled within the army before it was leaked to the media.
Barak, who most likely will face police interviewers in connection to the affair, was recently advised not to speak to Koren about the investigation in order to avoid any suggestion that the two are coordinating their statements.
In the event that it emerges that someone in Barak's office was involved, the minister will be forced to dismiss that person. Individuals who spoke yesterday with sources in Barak's office said they had the impression that the atmosphere there is tense.
If the police do find a link between employees of Arad Communications and the defense minister's bureau with regard to the suspect document, it is not known how this would affect GOC Southern Command Yoav Galant. In the absence of evidence linking him to the document no convincing argument can be made for disqualifying him as a candidate to replace Ashkenazi as IDF chief of staff.
Yesterday's weekly meeting of the General Staff was characterized as "professional" and "matter of fact." Behind the scenes, however, there are obvious rifts -- some of the candidates for chief of staff stopped talking to each other in the wake of the document affair.
Last week, Haaretz reported that GOC Northern Command Gadi Eizenkot will refuse to stay on at the General Staff if Galant is tapped as Ashkenazi's successor.