AG Criticizes State Comptroller, as War of Words Over Harpaz Affair Continues

Harpaz affair involves a possible attempt to influence the selection of a successor to former Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has accused State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss of making misleading statments regarding whether the latter's investigation of the so-called Harpaz affair had uncovered possible crimes.

Lindenstrauss has recently made comments that have been construed as critical of Weinstein for not having already opened a criminal probe.

The Harpaz affair involves a possible attempt to influence the selection of a successor to former Israel Defense Force Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi, through a document allegedly forged by Lt. Col. Boaz Harpaz.

In a letter Weinstein wrote this week to Lindenstrauss, Weinstein said that, contrary to Lindenstrauss' version of events, from the time the comptroller had opened his investigation until April of this year, neither Lindenstrauss nor his staff had made any argument supporting the opening of a criminal investigation.

"Such claims were not heard, neither directly nor indirectly, not in writing nor orally," Weinstein wrote to Lindenstrauss.

The tension between the attorney general and the comptroller was sparked by a petition to the High Court of Justice submitted by Erez Weiner, a former Ashkenazi aide whose conduct in the so-called Harpaz affair has also come into question.

The comptroller's draft report on the affair, issued in March, sharply criticized Weiner, who then petitioned the High Court to gain access to more of Lindenstrauss' evidence against him.

Weiner had already received some material, but said that in order to properly respond to the allegations in the draft report, he needed more. A hearing on Weiner's petition is set for next week.

Weinstein believes that Weiner should be given more material, while Lindenstrauss believes he has already been given too much, and that giving him more information might disrupt a criminal investigation.

Weinstein leans toward not opening a criminal investigation at all.

Because Weinstein and Lindenstrauss disagree about the issue, the state's attorneys are not responding to Weiner's petition. Instead, attorney David Liba'i was hired by the state comptroller to represent him.

Weinstein, in a letter that was attached on Thursday to Lindenstrauss' response to the High Court, listed the many meetings that had taken place between prosecutors and employees of the State Comptroller's Office, and said that no criminal suspicions were raised by the comptroller's staffers at any of these meetings.

On the contrary, Weinstein said, prosecutors asked specifically if the comptroller's office suspected additional criminal acts.

"It was made clear to our representatives," Weinstein wrote, "that the findings of the audit did not, in your opinion, raise suspicions of criminal acts," Weinstein added.

Weinstein also recalls a meeting in late February between himself, Lindenstrauss, and State Attorney Moshe Lador, during which Lindenstrauss clarified that he was not planning to give the draft report to Weinstein under Clause 14c of the State Comptroller's Law, which enables the comptroller to hand a report to the attorney general to investigate criminal suspicions.

Weinstein added that there were no indications of criminal suspicions in the draft report, nor in the letter Lindenstrauss issued with that report.

The first time Lindenstrauss mentioned criminal suspicions, Weinstein said, was on April 25 this year, Israel's Memorial Day. And it was only on May 2 that Lindenstrauss formally wrote to Weinstein, informing him, in accordance with Clause 14c, that he was transferring information to the attorney general that he felt should be the subject of a criminal probe.

The State Comptroller's Office said in response that even part of the findings of its investigation should be enough to justify a criminal probe, particularly the recordings of conversations in Ashkenazi's office, which is why it formally transferred the report to Weinstein under Clause 14c.

The Justice Ministry said on Thursday that the exchange of letters between Weinstein and Lindenstrauss had not been public, and thus it would not respond publicly to their content.