Bar-Lev to face sexual harassment probe

Attorney-general says appointment of next Police inspector-general to be suspended in light of investigation of top officer.

Weinstein 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Weinstein 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Thursday ordered the Justice Ministry's Police Investigation Department to open a probe into allegations of sexual harassment against Cmdr. Uri Bar-Lev.
Bar-Lev is the Israel Police's attaché in Washington and a leading candidate to be the force's next inspector-general.
40% of women report sexual harassment at work
The decision, which sent shockwaves through the police force, is viewed by some as another turn in a bitter feud between Insp.-Gen. David Cohen and Bar-Lev, who was previously the head of the Southern Police District.
Bar-Lev is scheduled to be questioned by the Police Investigation Department soon.
As a result of the investigation, Weinstein ordered Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to temporarily freeze all processes linked to the appointment of the next police commissioner.
The Justice Ministry said in a statement that "in light of the issue's sensitivity and the implications it has for the appointment process, all of the involved parties will make their best effort to complete the investigation as soon as possible."
The complainant against Bar-Lev, who is known only as 'A,' served as an adviser to the Public Security Ministry.
She has also complained of sexual harassment by the ministry's former director-general Hagai Peleg, who has since resigned. The attorney-general decided not to launch an investigation into the claims against Peleg.
Bar-Lev responded to Weinstein's announcement by telling Channel 2 he was convinced an investigation would prove beyond all doubt that his behavior had never been less than exemplary.
A source close to him told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday evening that Bar-Lev "remains optimistic and completely denies all suspicions against him. He believes that any proper investigation will find him innocent of all wrong-doings and he rejects the base attempt to damage his name due to the upcoming appointment a police commissioner."
"A" reportedly met with Cohen earlier this week.
On Wednesday, a meeting was held between Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein, State Attorney Moshe Lador, and the head of the Police Investigation Department, Herzl Shaviro. The meeting ended with the decision to freeze the appointment process of the next inspector-general.
The affair is being compared to the IDF's Harpaz documents, which led to the temporary suspension of the process to appoint the next chief of general staff.