Remove Efi Naveh from Bar head running -NGO to State Attorney

Though Naveh resigned as the Bar head in 2019 over a scandal, Israeli sources reported that he had gained enough signatures to run for reelection.

Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019 (photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)
Efi Naveh appears in court, January 16th, 2019
(photo credit: REUVEN CASTRO)

An appeal to remove controversial ex-Bar Association president Efi Naveh from running in the election to reclaim the position was sent to the State Attorney’s Office by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel (MQG) on Thursday.

 MQG called on the State Attorney’s Office to submit a complaint to the Bar’s Ethics Committee about Naveh, since the disciplinary panel had previously said it couldn’t review Naveh’s case over a conflict of interest. The ex-Bar head had appointed some of the panel’s members.

 The NGO had previously asked the State Attorney to file a complaint, which could include Naveh’s expulsion from the Bar, over his conviction for border fraud and his sex scandal. MQG filed an appeal to the State Attorney’s office in September, but hasn’t received a final decision. The movement said that the Thursday letter was an urgent follow-up before Naveh was elected.

"The bodies trusted with fairness and integrity of the election process aren't able or don't want to give a decision on the suitability of Naveh's candidacy, and in their failure allow a convicted felon to run for the position in which he committed crimes," said MQG.

What was the focus of Thursday's letter?

Naveh was reported by Maariv on April 19 to have gained enough signatures to run for reelection as Bar head.

The Thursday letter focused mostly on Naveh’s conviction for violating customs border security at Ben-Gurion Airport in 2018 for which he received a two-month suspended sentence in November 2022 for sneaking a woman past customs agents. The woman was his partner, and Naveh wanted to avoid impacting his divorce proceedings.

MQG said that while he wasn’t indicted, the sex-for-judgeship scandal was still relevant to Naveh’s running.

The then-Bar president was accused of promoting judicial candidates in exchange for sexual favors. He was suspected of having a sexual relationship with the wife of a magistrate who sought to become a district court judge, as well as with a female lawyer who was appointed to a magistrate’s court.

While Naveh resigned as Bar president over the scandal in 2019, the legal case was dropped by the prosecution in 2021 given that his affairs were also based on mutual attraction, and the deputy state attorney determined that the prosecution would lose the case in court.

Naveh’s successor, Avi Himi, resigned in January following his own sex-for-judgeship scandal. A female attorney accused Himi of masturbating during a video call with her when she sought his recommendation for a judgeship.

Yonah Jeremy Bob contributed to this report.