Nathan Eshel 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
The attorneys for “R.,” the young female staffer allegedly harassed by the Prime
Minister’s Office’s chief of staff Natan Eshel, told the attorney- general on
Monday that their client still does not wish to testify.
In a letter to
Weinstein, attorneys Dr. Harel Arnon and Itzhak Bam said they regretted the
attorney-general’s decision “not to honor the wishes of our client to refrain
from testifying to the Civil Service Commission.”
Arnon’s letter comes
after Weinstein announced late Sunday evening that the Civil Service
Commission’s Investigations Division will carry out a full investigation into
allegations that Eshel harassed R. and intruded on her privacy.
decision was made immediately after a meeting between Weinstein’s office and the
Civil Service Commission, in which the attorney-general was updated regarding
the progress of an initial inquiry into the allegations. As a result of that
meeting, Weinstein said he will not ask the police to open a criminal
investigation into the allegations, saying that there was “no justification to
deviate from the accepted measures in this matter.”
In their letter to
Weinstein on Monday, Arnon and Bam reiterated that R. considered the summons to
testify about “allegations that have arisen regarding Eshel’s conduct” to be an
“unnecessary injury to her privacy.”
Arnon and Bam told Weinstein that R.
wished to clarify her position, which is that she continues to refuse to give
R. herself has not made any complaint against Eshel, and
according to reports, the allegations were brought to the attention of the
attorney-general by cabinet secretary Tzvi Hauser, communications director Yoaz
Hendel and Maj.-Gen.
The letter to Weinstein came
after the attorney-general said Sunday that R. would have to testify in the
Civil Service Commission investigation, despite a request via her attorneys that
she be permitted not to do so. Weinstein said that as a government employee, R.
is compelled to report to the Civil Service Commission’s
R.’s attorneys also received notification from the
Attorney- General’s Office on Sunday, stating that R. would have to give
testimony. “This summons will not infringe on her privacy, dignity or basic
rights,” Weinstein’s office told R.’s counsel.
After receiving that
letter, R.’s attorneys said they are weighing whether to file a petition to the
High Court of Justice over the matter.
On Monday morning, Yediot Aharonot
reported that R. told her friends that she is reluctant to complain about Eshel
because she fears that doing so could damage her future.
According to the
report, R. told Prime Minister’s Office officials that Eshel was
wellconnected and so could “close all doors to her.”
“I saw what happened
to those who complained about Moshe Katsav. Who wants to hire them now?” the
report said R. told her friends.
Meanwhile, in a Labor faction Knesset
meeting Monday afternoon, Labor chairwoman Shelly Yacimovich slammed Prime
Minister Binyamin Netanyahu over reports that R. is afraid to testify, calling
on him to “set a good example.”
“Where is [Netanyahu’s] leadership
spirit?” Yacimovich asked. “I call on the prime minister to give up his passive
approach and send a strong message encouraging the truth to come to light. It’s
your office, under your command. This woman is afraid to testify. Tell
her that it will be OK to testify and let the truth emerge.”
“Why is the
underlying message that those who complained will be the ones to pay the price?”
the Labor chairwoman asked. “In any other normal workplace, [the incident] would
not have been passed over lightly, but in the Prime Minister’s Office, it was
passed over lightly.”
Also on Monday, MK Zehava Gal-On (Meretz) called on
State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss to use the powers granted to him under the
State Comptroller Law to issue R. with a protection order against any attempt to
harm her if she gives testimony.
In her letter to Lindenstrauss, Gal-On
wrote that “everything possible should be done to bring the facts to light
without those involved feeling that their professional and personal futures are
“This is especially true when it comes to complaints of sexual
harassment, as recent history shows, because these complaints tend to get buried
and not emerge because complainants fears of public exposure and abuse from
their employers,” Gal-On said.