War in Court over Appointment of Chief of Staff
Major General Yoav Galant has declared war on the cancellation of his appointment as new Chief of Staff, and he appealed to the High Court Sunday to order a review of the decision while the Cabinet named Major General Benny Gantz as the new army chief.
The High Court rejected an immediate acceptance of the appeal and announced the case will be heard by the justices on Tuesday.
The court's rejection cleared the way for the Cabinet to name Gantz as head of the armed forces, replacing outgoing IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi. The Cabinet's near-unanimous vote is dependent on the final court ruling in two days and on confirmation by the Turkel Committee, which reviews nominations for senior public positions.
Galant’s appeal asks the court to order the Turkel committee to review the decision last week by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to cancel his nomination because of questions concerning land transactions.
After Barak skipped over Gantz and appointed Galant to succeed Ashkenazi, Gantz announced his resignation from the IDF. Gantz is considered a successful and quiet commander, but Israeli media have overlooked the fact that he allegedly exploited his rights as an IDF officer and improperly rented properties. However, Barak decided to give him a "slap on the wrist" and did not punish or demote him.
Besides Galant, Gantz may face another judicial appeal against his becoming head of the Israel Defense Forces. He was widely criticized in October 2000 for abandoning Druze Border Police guard Madhaf Yousef, who was killed in a battle with terrorists near Joseph’s Tomb at Shechem after he bled to death on the field of battle.
Yousef’s family is considering an appeal, but Gantz, who was head of the division of army forces in Judea and Samaria as the time, can argue that he was under orders from senior commanders.
Gantz's public criticism of the IDF for not carrying out government policy has also raised questions of his tendency to "follow orders" instead of questioning government policy that may damage national security.
The entire debacle over the appointment of a successor to Ashkenazi has come under fire from Cabinet minister and Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, who was Chief of Staff in the Sharon government until being replaced shortly before the expulsion of Jews from Gaza and parts of northern Samaria, a decision that did not have Ya'alon’s full support.
Yaalon said on Israeli televising that Barak acted too quickly in appointing Galant despite known questions over his land transactions.
“Barak’s behavior indicates that he is losing his mind by declaring a war on Ashkenazi that does not have a reason I am aware of. Their relationship harms the security of the country,” he said.