Incoming IDF chief battles accusations of illegal land grab

09:41, January 24, 2011      

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by Gur Salomon

Major General Yoav Galant, a battle veteran slated to become the Israel Defense Forces' next chief of staff, on Sunday fought what may end up being the most decisive battle of his life -- successfully warding off accusations that he illegally seized state land for his private home.

The affair, which has preoccupied the national media in recent weeks, reached a crucial stage on Sunday when Galant testified before State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss, offering his version on how several state-owned acres came under his family's ownership over the years.

In August, Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak named Galant the IDF's 20th chief of general staff, an appointment scheduled to go into effect on Feb. 14, when Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi steps down.

The Israeli cabinet approved the appointment, as did the Turkel Committee, which vets senior civil service appointments, despite petitions to the High Court of Justice against it.

On Thursday, Galant's attorney submitted a written response to the state comptroller regarding his neighbors' allegations that he had grabbed public land and lied to the court in the legal battle that ensued.

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