gantz - Ilan Assayag - February 11 2011
Benny Gantz Photo by Ilan Assayag
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The Turkel Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, yesterday approved Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz to be the next chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces.

The committee said it "was convinced that Gantz is a very worthy candidate for the post of IDF chief of staff."

Panel members had considered allegations about Gantz's conduct in the death of border policeman in Nablus in 2000, as well as an unusually large payment from the army for personal moving expenses. The border policeman, Madhat Yusuf, bled to death when the army delayed a rescue operation after he was wounded near Joseph's Tomb in Nablus at the start of the second intifada. At the time, Gantz was commander of the Judea and Samaria Division.

The panel also considered allegations that he built an illegal porch in his backyard and encroached on state lands. It did criticize Gantz's conduct in this affair, particularly his failure to obtain the necessary permits for the porch. However, the ruling said, committee members were "convinced that Maj. Gen. Gantz corrected the error immediately when he was informed of the problem."

Regarding the moving expenses, the panel cited the military advocate general's exoneration of Gantz.

It also found no fault with Gantz over Yusuf's death. Relying on both an internal IDF investigation and a High Court of Justice ruling, the panel determined that "Gantz was not the most senior officer in command [during the Joseph's Tomb clashes], and these events had operational and political aspects that were not his responsibility."

"The objections that were raised are insufficient to besmirch him or preclude his appointment due to character issues," the committee concluded. "Nor is there any concern that the appointment is not a worthy one due to personal, business, or political links to government officials or other figures. As such, the panel endorses the appointment of Maj. Gen. Gantz."

Gantz's appointment will be submitted to the cabinet for approval on Sunday, and he is expected to officially replace outgoing Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday.

The committee's decision elicited a sigh of relief from the army's high command. IDF sources said they were pleased with Gantz's appointment and hoped it would restore stability to the army after the uncertainty that has racked it in recent months.