Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Turkel Committee defends choice of Galant for IDF chief

The Turkel Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, defended Wednesday its choice to approve Major General Yoav Galant for the top military post despite allegations that he had been involved in appropriating plots of public land near his home. 

The committee discussed the issue only briefly before approving Galant for the position of Israel Defense Forces chief of staff, sparking a wave of public criticism and questions. 

In response, the committee declared Wednesday that its responsibility was to ensure that the candidate's values were "pure", and that he was non-partisan and otherwise free of personal attachment to any government entity. 

"[The committee is] not a panel of inquiry, and thus does not have the tools necessary to carry out investigations of the sort," it said in the statement. "It is not authorized to conduct an investigation and relies only on the information provided." 

The High Court of Justice on Wednesday, meanwhile, rejected a petition lodged by the Green Party to bar Galant from assuming the position until allegations against him are cleared. 

Galant is expected to testify on the matter next week. 

Defense Minister Ehud Barak named Galant as the next chief of staff of the Israel Defense Forces in August, to replace Gabi Ashkenazi once the latter steps down.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had requested that the High Court delay by 10 days its consideration of the Green Party's petition, in light of new information he had received about the case. He asked the state comptroller to submit his final report as soon as possible, but the report will be completed only after Galant has testified.

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