High Court Rejects Calls to Delay Appointment of New IDF Chief

Turkel committee on senior appointments approves appointment of Ashkenazi as 19th IDF Chief of Staff.

The High Court of Justice on Monday rejected petitions to delay the appointment of Major General (Res.) Gabi Ashkenazi as the 19th Chief of Staff of the Israel Defense Forces until the Winograd Committee releases its interim report on the Lebanon war.

Also on Monday, the committee on senior appointments, headed by retired Supreme Court Justice Yaakob Turkel, approved the appointment of Ashkenazi as the new chief of staff.

Thus, the two final technical obstacles delaying Ashkenazi's appointment were removed.

Justices Dorit Beinisch, Eliezer Rivlin and Ayala Procaccia decided to reject the petitions to delay the appointment, arguing that the court does not have sufficient cause to intervene with the government's judgment on the matter. The petitioners argued that the IDF Chief appointed may soon be found responsible for failures during the war.

"Indeed," Supreme Court President Beinisch wrote in the decision, "the fighting in the north was difficult and painful, and the Winograd Committee is currently looking into the extent of responsibility among defense and political officials for the events of the war. Still, the responsibility for the state's security rests on the soldiers of the acting government."

Beinisch wrote that there are arguments that favor delaying the appointment of chief of staff until after the committee's final report is released. She said, "both positions are possible, but the country's position, stating that the country's security demands the immediate appointment of the a chief of staff, falls within the government's jurisdiction and is the government's responsibility."

"We cannot intervene with it [the government's position]," Beinisch wrote.

The justices also rejected the petitioners' claim that the appointment of a chief of staff at present could influence the Winograd Committee's judgment, as it may avoid reaching personal conclusions against the person chosen in order not to unsettle the army.

The justices wrote that the committee's mandate requires it to make decisions professionally and without bias.

The government has notified the High Court that that it will accept the Winograd Committee's recommendations and that were these decisions to affect the nominee for chief of staff, "the matter would be examined in the appropriate channels."