High Court Rejects Galant's Petition for Turkel Committee Review

Maj. Gen. Yoav Galant hasn't given up on his quest to become the Israel Defense Forces' 20th chief of staff.

Yesterday morning, a short time before the weekly cabinet meeting, Galant petitioned the High Court of Justice, demanding that his appointment to the top army post not be canceled, and that the matter of his selection - and of the controversy regarding his alleged land grab on Moshav Amikam - be referred to the Turkel committee on senior civil service appointments.

Yoav Galant - Archive

Supreme Court Justice Elyakim Rubinstein rejected Galant's request that an injunction be issued to effectively overturn the nullification of his appointment, and to block the selection of Maj. Gen. Benny Gantz as chief of staff. Rubinstein ruled that a hearing on Galant's request will be held on Tuesday. The same High Court panel that debated the petition by the Green Movement and environmental activists concerning Galant's allegedly improper use of moshav land will thus preside over this hearing tomorrow.

Galant argues in his petition that the government lacks the authority to cancel a chief of staff appointment on grounds of ethical probity. He claims that the government had no right to overturn the appointment without first redirecting the matter for consideration to the Turkel committee. He says that has no objection in principle to the government appointing another candidate for chief of staff: Should the Turkel panel recommend that Galant's appointment for the post be rejected, his petition states, then the government should appoint another candidate without delay.

Responding to Galant's request for an injunction, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein stated that, in the opinion of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak, due to circumstances that arose, it was imperative to select another person to fill the post of chief of staff, at yesterday's government meeting.

"Returning his [Galant's] case to the Turkel committee, along with [the matter of] the candidacy of other persons, as Galant requests, would lead to the creation of grave uncertainty regarding the nomination of the IDF's next chief of staff," Weinstein stated in his response.

Weinstein added that the government decided in 2006 to establish the Turkel committee, partly with the aim of assessing issues of ethical probity regarding candidates for senior public posts.

This morning, Galant is expected to appear before the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee, to discuss procedures relating to the appointment of the chief of staff.

Galant was invited to speak before that committee last week, after the State Comptroller's Office disclosed its findings concerning the controversy over land involving him - and before a decision was reached to appoint Gantz in Galant's stead. Members of the panel announced last week that they want to assess the processes involved in selecting the chief of staff; they also thanked Galant for his contributions to the state's security over the years.

Defense Minister Barak stated yesterday that he will not take part in the Knesset committee discussion today, despite the fact that he was asked to be present.

Galant yesterday appointed Ronen Tzur to serve as his media adviser.