Tarnished by the State Comptroller's report, Col. Erez Weiner, aide to former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, is to retire from the army.
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Last week, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz spoke with Weiner about other options open to him, given that he does not see a future in the IDF for Weiner, who played a role in the Harpaz affair.
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss reported that Weiner had systematically cooperated with Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz in collecting information against Defense Minister Ehud Barak, IDF chief of staff candidate Yoav Galant, and others. At times, Weiner passed on to or initiated the collection of such damaging information for Harpaz.
These findings were revealed by numerous hours of recorded conversations between Weiner and Harpaz. The latter forged a document in a bid to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant from being appointed successor to Ashkenazi.
The comptroller determined that Weiner’s actions deviated from his obligation as an officer subservient to the political echelon, even in light of the fact that Ashkenazi had sent Harpaz to Weiner to collect information about an alleged plan in Barak’s bureau.
As Weiner had signed a contract extending his service, the matter will now be given over to committee in the IDF human resources branch that deals with release from contracts. The committee normally conducts a hearing for the officer and the officer’s attorney and also receives a detailed report on the reason for ending the contract. According to the IDF rules, the army can ask to end the contract of an officer in the career army for “conduct that does not conform to the standards of career service.” This will apparently be the clause under which the Weiner will be released and will require further approval from the head of human resources.
In relating to the state comptroller’s report on the Harpaz affair last week, Gantz said lines had been crossed and “improper steps had been taken from the point of view of conduct, values and ethics.” Speaking at a meeting with the IDF’s senior operational brass last week Gantz had harsh words for Weiner’s conduct as described in the comptroller’s report. “Sometimes a command is exploited in relation to others by use of certain information. Sometimes a good and loyal act is carried out but it crosses lines that must not be crossed. I cannot accept such conduct, no matter how much I appreciate, and I very much appreciate, the people involved,” Gantz said.
Prior to the investigation, Military Advocate General, Maj. Gen. Danny Efroni, had informed Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein that if he did not launch an investigation against Ashkenazi, Efroni would launch his own criminal probe of Weiner on suspicion of breach of trust and conduct unbecoming an IDF officer.
Statements, presented as a quote from “a conversation with Weiner’s attorney” in a report in Yedioth Ahronoth over the weekend were perceived by some senior officers as crossing a boundary. Weiner was quoted as saying that the IDF is not “Gantz’s father’s army and not Ehud Barak’s father’s army.”
In August, Gantz decided not to promote Weiner to IDF chief education officer. At the time, the IDF Spokesman’s Office issued a statement that “when the comptroller’s investigation is over, and lacking a legal or other reason, Col. Weiner will be in the running for another brigadier general’s position and until a decision is made he will be placed in another position.”
Lt. Gen (Res.) Ashkenazi's media adviser said in response in his name: "Col. Erez Weiner is a principled officer with many virtues, who contributed greatly to national security. In his capacity as an aide to the chief of staff, Col. Weiner found himself in an impossible situation as a result of the conduct of the defense minister and his office – who harmed the military, as detailed in the state comptroller's report. Lt. Gen (Res.) Ashkenazi believes that the criticism leveled against Col. Erez Weiner in the state comptroller's report was excessive and ignored this situation, and he regrets the end of his service in the IDF."