02/04/2011 06:07

Petition to court over questionable land acquisition led to Galant’s downfall.

It was an extremely long shot case that even they themselves recognized as such, Green Movement head Prof. Alon Tal told The Jerusalem Post this week after Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant’s appointment as IDF chief was revoked just two weeks before he was set to take up the reins.

The Green Movement filed the High Court petition that caused the uproar regarding Galant’s questionable acquisition of land in his moshav, Amikam.

The petition eventually led to an investigation by the state comptroller, and Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein decided he could not defend Galant’s appointment and argue against the petition before the court.

“The message here is about the rule of law and that nobody is above the law,” Tal said, “not even the military, which has been rather cavalier about it.”

Tal said it was inconceivable to them that a “serial violator” of land laws should be appointed to a position that symbolizes the values of the country.

While the Green Movement has a clear environmental political agenda, “we’re not just about the environment, but also about good governance,” Tal told the Post.

“You could say that what it comes down to is the notion of ‘the commons.’ As a party, that notion of public property and public goods and values cuts across all our issues. More and more, the public space is being taken over by myopia and greed,” the veteran environmental activist said.

“The commons is not just about beaches, but about education,” and other similar public values, he noted.

The Green Movement did not break the story of Galant’s allegedly questionable land acquisitions, which had already been raised in the media.

“We had heard about it and were aware of the issue, but decided to leave it alone when he was just a senior military officer in an operational capacity,” Tal explained.

“But when he was nominated as the next chief of staff, well, that’s not just an operational position. The chief of staff is a symbol and supposed to embody certain values for the people and the kids,” he said.

So the Green Movement embarked on its petition, but even they knew the chances of a favorable outcome were slight.

“Everybody told us we’d be thrown out. As someone who ran an environmental law firm this was probably the case with the lowest likelihood of success that I’ve ever been involved in,” Tal admitted.

The purpose of the petition was to air the issues, but then “more and more improprieties emerged.”

“The High Court showed courage and demonstrated that we do have a participatory democracy,” Tal said.

In the last Knesset elections, the Green Movement received only half the number of votes needed to pass the threshold, but Tal said they didn’t file the petition for PR purposes. Nevertheless, he said the success of the petition would likely “put the wind at our backs.”

The party is in the midst of a membership drive and will hold leadership elections on February 11.

“We’re going to have a male and female chairman to show we’re committed to women’s issues,” he added.

“We took on the biggest, most powerful machine in the country, the IDF, and held its feet to the fire to ensure accountability. I’m pretty proud of that,” Tal quietly declared.