Nathan Eshel 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The alleged harassment case in the Prime Minister's Office took a
significant turn Wednesday when the Hebrew media reported that allegations against bureau chief Natan Eshel were brought to the attention of the attorney general by three senior officials in the PMO.
to the reports, Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser and communications
director Yoaz Hendel took the complaints of a female staffer to attorney
general Yehuda Weinstein. Later reports alleged that Maj.-Gen. Yohanan
Locker also provided information to Weinstein, who directed the Civil
Service Commission's disciplinary division to conduct a preliminary
investigation into the matter. Sources close to Locker, however, said that he had not passed any information on to Weinstein, Israel Radio reported.
The woman complained
that Eshel, her direct boss, intruded on her privacy by going through her
cellular phone messages and e-mails, and harassed her by following her outside
working hours. The woman herself had refused to complain, but told others in the
office about the situation.
The Prime Minister’s Office had no comment
Wednesday on the new developments.
Neither Eshel, one of Netanyahu’s
closest advisers, nor the woman, came to work on Wednesday. According to media
reports, Netanyahu was not notified previously of the allegations.
civil rights group Ometz on Wednesday appealed to Harel Locker, the
director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, to suspend Eshel until the
completion of an inquiry into the matter.
In a letter – sent to Locker,
Weinstein and Civil Service commissioner attorney Moshe Dayan – Ometz’s
director, Arieh Avneri, said the Prime Minister’s Office’s “rush to declare the
affair to be ‘gossip’ is premature in the light of the fact that the female
staffer whom Eshel is suspected of harassing has not yet been investigated and
has not given her version.”
On Tuesday, when Army radio first broke the
story, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement dismissing the allegations
Avneri told The Jerusalem Post
he also requested that Locker
ensure that during the Civil Service Commission’s examination of the allegations
there was no conflict of interest, since Eshel had been directly involved in
Late on Wednesday night, the Justice Ministry said
that the Civil Service Commission had not yet completed the initial inquiry into
the allegations, as requested by the attorney-general.
Also on Wednesday, the Civil Service Commission confirmed the attorney-general
had ordered them to conduct a preliminary investigation into the reliability of
the information received by the Justice Ministry about the harassment
That inquiry is being conducted in conjunction with Justice
Ministry officials, who are being updated about it, a spokesman said.
Justice Ministry added that it would not provide any details of how the
information regarding the suspicions came to the attention of the
attorney-general, but clarified that in this case, those who obtained the
information “had been expected, within the capacity of their role, to transfer
it to the appropriate officials in order for them to examine it and check its
The Justice Ministry said on Tuesday it is looking into the
allegations of harassment. A Justice Ministry spokesman said the ministry
“confirmed that following the receipt of information by our office, the
attorney-general has instructed the Civil Service Commission’s disciplinary
division to hold a preliminary inquiry regarding the reliability of the
The Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement on Wednesday
clarifying the allegations against Eshel were not sexual in nature, as reported
by the Post
“This is not true and the allegations against him have no
sexual nature whatsoever,” the statement said.