The palace coup
Caroline Glick reports how former Mossad director Meir Dagan and former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi may be weakening Israel's defenses
Since the beginning of his first term as prime minister 15 years ago, Binyamin Netanyahu has consistently warned that the greatest dangers Israel faces stem from the forces of global jihad generally and the Iranian regime and its nuclear program specifically. After taking office for the second time in 2009, Netanyahu made blocking Iran’s rise to nuclear power his top priority. He ordered the heads of the Mossad and the IDF to prepare plans to attack Iran’s nuclear installations. Read the whole thing
Last Friday, Haaretz reported that former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi refused to obey his order. Rather than prepare strike plans, Dagan and Ashkenazi warned that such a strike would foment a regional war. That is, rather than do their jobs, they made excuses for failing to fulfill their duty to obey Israel’s elected leadership.
Not wanting to take them on directly, Netanyahu and Defense Minister Ehud Barak decided to wait them out. Dagan and Ashkenazi were both set to finish their terms at the beginning of the year, and Netanyahu and Barak figured they could replace them with commanders who would abide by the government’s wishes. Specifically, Barak and Netanyahu believed that by replacing Ashkenazi with his deputy Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, they would have a military leader willing and able to take on the central challenge of preventing Iran from becoming a nuclear power.
Barak announced last August that Galant would replace Ashkenazi as IDF chief in January. Galant’s appointment was approved by the government and by the Senior Appointments Commission. But in late January, the government was forced to cancel it. And this week we received new indications that Galant’s appointment fell victim to what has been likened to a palace coup. That is, the government was denied its right to choose its military leader by a group of senior officials who deliberately usurped that power from the government.
In January, we learned that Ashkenazi’s close associate Lt.-Col. (ret.) Boaz Harpaz had forged a document that was transferred by Ashkenazi’s office to Channel 2. The forgery purported to be a memo written for Galant by the public relations firm owned by Eyal Arad – Kadima’s public relations guru. The forged memo detailed a public relations campaign that would discredit Galant’s rivals and Ashkenazi, and so pave the way for Galant’s appointment as chief of General Staff. Channel 2’s broadcast of the memo seriously harmed Galant’s public image.
The police opened an investigation, and Harpaz admitted to forging the document. Despite revelations that Harpaz was in intensive, continuous contact with Ashkenazi’s wife Ronit and had a longstanding close friendship with Ashkenazi himself, the Military Advocate- General decided not to investigate Ashkenazi or any other officer about their ties to Harpaz and his forged document.
Over the weekend, Yediot Aharonot reported that last week Harpaz underwent two lengthy interrogations by State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss. Harpaz is reportedly divulging information about his connections to Ashkenazi.
Despite Harpaz’s own admission that he forged the document, Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein has abstained, to date, from indicting him. Although jarring, Weinstein’s actions are not surprising. It was Weinstein who personally overturned Galant’s appointment in January.
Harpaz’s defamatory memo wasn’t the only thing working against Galant’s appointment. A previously unknown environmental group called the Green Movement filed a petition with the Supreme Court calling for the cancellation of Galant’s appointment because in the past he had used the state lands around his family homestead in Moshav Amikam without permission. Since his actions were administrative infractions rather than criminal acts, the Senior Appointments Commission concluded that he was fit to serve as chief of staff.
Weinstein felt differently. Claiming that he had ethical problems with Galant’s behavior, Weinstein refused to defend the appointment to the Supreme Court. Weinstein’s announcement forced the government to cancel Galant’s appointment.
Ashkenazi’s chosen successor,Maj.-Gen. Benny Gantz, whom Barak had previously eliminated from the running, was appointed instead.
Perhaps due to fear that Gantz might not stand up to Netanyahu and Barak as he and Ashkenazi did, Dagan shocked the country last month by launching an unprecedented public attack against Netanyahu and Barak. His clear aim was to discredit the option of an Israeli military strike against Iran.
According to Haaretz, Dagan was motivated by his desire to cover up his failure to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons. Also according to Haaretz, Ashkenazi, together with recently retired IDF intelligence chief Maj.-Gen. Amos Yadlin, supported Dagan’s attacks through off-record briefings.
Labels: Benny Gantz, Binyamin Netanyahu, Boaz Harpaz, Ehud Barak, Gabi Ashkenazi, Meir Dagan, Yoav Galant