Aharonovitch: Feuding commanders damage police name

Justice Ministry source to "Post": Media is filled with disinformation over Bar-Lev harassment investigation.

November 21, 2010 02:04
2 minute read.
Yitzhak Aharonovitch

Aharonovitch 58. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski/The Jerusalem Post))

Feuding police commanders competing for the post of inspector-general are harming the name of the Israel Police, Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch said on Saturday evening.

These were his first official comments addressing a sexual harassment complaint that rocked the police force and led to the temporary suspension of the race for position of police chief last week by Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein.

Bar-Lev to face sexual harassment probe

The minister said that he would not tolerate a prolonged freeze of the race for the top police post, adding that that if the current impasse in the selection process continues, he would simply appoint a police commissioner of his choosing.

Reports of intrigue and improper sexual relations between the woman at the heart of the investigation into Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev, currently the Israel Police attaché in Washington, and another leading police chief candidate – who is considered his bitter rival – continued to circulate around the media over the weekend.

The News First Class website even suggested that the woman attempted to persuade cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser to act on behalf of Bar-Lev’s rival and help ensure that he was awarded the position.

That report was denied on Saturday by the Prime Minister’s Office, which said in a statement that Hauser “never had any dealings... or conversations with the prime minister or any other source on the post of police inspector-general, either directly or indirectly.”

The woman’s lawyer said the report was slanderous.

“We refuse to act as a chess piece on the board of rumors and gossip,” the Public Security Ministry said on Saturday, as the reports continued to swirl.

Bar-Lev, who is a front running candidate to become next inspector-general, is reportedly scheduled to return to Israel in the coming days to face questioning over the complaint.

Other senior police commanders are set to also be questioned, according to various reports.

But a Justice Ministry source told The Jerusalem Post on Saturday that the media “is filled with disinformation” about the investigation. “We are maintaining a full media blackout. No one knows what we are doing. A lot of nonsense is appearing in the press,” the source said.

Some reports have linked the current crisis to an ongoing and bitter feud between Bar- Lev and outgoing Police Insp.- Gen. David Cohen. In August 2008, Bar-Lev was summarily dismissed by Cohen after he turned down an offer of a study leave, which was interpreted by police sources at the time as an attempt to push Bar- Lev out of the force.

In April 2009, Aharonovitch reinstated Bar-Lev into the force and appointed him a police attaché – a decision which has permanently soured ties between Aharonovitch and Cohen. Now, some commentators have suggested that Cohen helped persuade the woman to lodge a complaint against his old foe – a suggestion denied by sources close to the inspector- general.

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