Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has announced the closure of the criminal investigation against former Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi in the so-called Harpaz affair.
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Ashkenazi is widely reported to be considering a move into political life, with Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid reportedly his most ardent suitor.
Also closed were the investigations, in connection to the same case, of former IDF spokesman Brig. Gen. Avi Benayahu, former Ashkenazi aide Col. Erez Weiner and Col. Gabi Siboni. This decision came despite a police recommendation in favor of indictment.
Weinstein stressed, in his announcement, that the decision not to prosecute does not “detract from or blunt the harsh determinations of the state comptroller, in the realm of ethics and public conduct, with regard to the behavior of Ashkenazi and Weiner, which certainly did not become such senior officers.”
The police had also recommended the indictment of Cabinet Secretary Avichai Mendelblit. The military advocate general at the time of the Harpaz affair, Mendelblit has been approved to replace Weinstein as attorney general next month. The investigation against Mendelblit was closed in April of last year.
In their recommendation, the police said there was evidence to support charges of breach of trust and of passing information to an unauthorized source, including reporters. The police also believed that Ashkenazi delayed reporting the existence of “the Harpaz document” to police, even though he knew that a police investigation had been launched in the matter.
At the center of the affair was the “Harpaz document,” which surfaced in 2010, and the mutual dislike between Ashkenazi and then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak. Lt. Col. (res.) Boaz Harpaz, an associate of Ashkenazi’s, forged the document in order to keep Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant from succeeding Ashkenazi as chief of staff. Specifically, the document described plans by Barak’s associates to launch a smear campaign aimed at Ashkenazi. In a statement, Ashkenazi expressed satisfaction with the decision to close the investigation and with what he called the decisive finding that there was not a shred of evidence to support Barak’s claims of a putsch.