The Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments chaired by retired Judge Gabriel Bach today, submitted to the Government its recommendations regarding the appointment of Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz as IDF Chief-of-Staff. (The other members of the Committee are Civil Service Commissioner Shmuel Hollander and retired Maj.-Gen. Haim Erez..)
Following are the aforesaid recommendations:
1. Defense Minister Shaul Mofaz announced to the Chairman of the Advisory Committee on Senior Civil Service Appointments (hereinafter: “the Committee”) that, contingent upon its approval or recommendation, in accordance with Article 3c of Basic Law: The Army, he had decided to recommend to the Government
that Maj.-Gen. Dan Halutz be appointed IDF Chief-of-Staff.
2. Defense Minister Mofaz asked that the Committee examine the proposed appointee’s qualifications, in accordance with Cabinet decision #4891of 7.3.99 . It will be recalled that the aforementioned Cabinet decision assigns to the Committee the responsibility
of considering any possible deficiencies vis-?-vis integrity or other qualities in proposed appointees.
3. To this end, Maj.-Gen. Halutz filled out a form prepared by the Committee in which he was asked to specify details about his life and his abilities for the proposed position, and to answer several relevant additional questions regarding issues within the Committee’s purview.
4. On 2.3.05, the Committee members, at their request, at the Prime Minister’s Office, met with Prime Minister Ariel Sharon, Defense Minister Mofaz, with current IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Moshe Yaalon and with Maj.-Gen. Halutz. All answered the questions that were put to them.
5. Following are our conclusions, based on the material that was presented to us and on our impressions from the meetings we held:
A. Maj.-Gen. Halutz’s military experience is most impressive.
B. Regarding the opinions that were expressed by others, as they were published in the media, and according to which an officer whose expertise lies mainly with the Air Force is unfit to be Chief-of-Staff:
On this point, we sought the comments of Prime Minister Sharon, Defense Minister Mofaz and IDF Chief-of-Staff Lt.-Gen. Yaalon and came to the opinion that this is no deficiency. The IDF, in its current format, is a multi-faceted body that requires close cooperation between each of its components. The fitness of an experienced officer to be Chief-of-Staff
depends mainly on his qualities and his personality, great importance should
not be ascribed to the question of his having served mainly in the various ground forces or in other branches such as the air force or the navy.
It must be added that as OC Operations and IDF Deputy Chief-of-Staff, Maj.-Gen. Halutz also had direct links with all of the various branches in the IDF.
C. During his tenure in the reserves, Maj.-Gen. Halutz devoted time to academic studies and in 1979, received a BA in Economics from Tel Aviv University.
D. It was made clear to us that Prime Minister Sharon and Defense Minister Mofaz considered the candidacies of two senior officers, with Maj.-Gen. Halutz being one of them. While both of these men were worthy of being appointed IDF Chief-of-Staff, in the end, the candidacy of Maj.-Gen. Halutz was preferred.
It seems to us that the decision to recommend the candidacy of Maj.-Gen. Halutz was made on the basis of substantive considerations only, and not on foreign considerations such as those relating to personal, political or
business ties between the candidate and the recommending ministers.
5. We note that we have examined and considered the weight of claims that have been raised against Maj.-Gen. Halutz, and everything relating to his public comments related to the incident in which an active terrorist was
eliminated in the Gaza Strip by an IAF missile. However, in the same incident a number of innocent Palestinians were killed, including a number of children.
Maj.-Gen. Halutz was criticized at the time for his apathy to killings of civilians. This incident was brought to the Supreme Court, case #5757/04, in which 30 petitioners requested that Maj.-Gen. Halutz’s appointment be
revoked, due to his lack of sympathy to the deaths of innocent civilians. The Supreme Court rejected the petition, but it ruled that “The tone of this interview (with Maj.-Gen. Halutz) should be regretted, and it would have
been better if some of the comments had not been made, especially by a Maj.-Gen. in the IDF, and someone who was the Commander of the Israeli Air Force.”
The Supreme Court also commented on Maj.-Gen. Halutz’s claim that he made his remarks in order to support those under his command, who carried out the mission; but the presiding judge noted that in any case, “I do not believe
that it was necessary for matters to develop as they did,” and that he should have transferred to those under his command, “First of all, the
supreme importance to the value of life, and the sensitivity and sadness on the loss of innocent lives, whether they be Israeli or Palestinian.”
This incident is especially sad in light of the fact that is known to all of us, that the IDF in general, and the IAF in particular, acts on this issue in the utmost moral and humanitarian manner and are worthy of much praise, and that important IAF operations have been cancelled at the last minute when it became clear that an attack would result in the significant loss of Palestinian life.
We have examined the information from the Supreme Court case, and we requested and received all the comments of those interviewed on this matter, including those of Maj.-Gen. Halutz himself, and it is our opinion that the
humanitarian policy of the Air Force on this matter was not only invoked according to regulations at the time Maj.-Gen. Halutz was head of the Air Force, but that it also expresses the correct and moral policy in his eyes, and that he would also invoke it as Chief-of-Staff.
6. Therefore, the members of the committee unanimously express their opinion, that if Government ministers decide to accept the recommendations of Defense Minister Mofaz to appoint Maj.-Gen. Halutz as the next IDF
Chief-of-Staff, there will be no fault or deficiency, neither in his integrity nor in any other area.