Netanyahu thanks former bureau chief for service after resignation due to harassment scandal (HA´ARETZ NEWS) By Barak Ravid 02/20/12)
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Prime Minister Netanyahu thanked his former bureau chief Natan Eshel
for his “dedication,” hours after the latter resigned from public
service after being embroiled in an alleged sexual harassment scandal.
In a message from the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Eshel was praised for
his “important contributions to the successful work of the government
Netanyahu also announced that Gil Shefer, the director of the Prime
Minister’s Bureau, would take Eshel’s place temporarily in order to
maintain its continuous operation.
Eshel is suspected of harassing R., who works for him in Netanyahu´s
bureau. Eshel allegedly followed her, searched her private emails and
snapped photos of her of a sexual nature.
The Civil Service Commission has collected at least 16 testimonies
from various individuals, some of which seem to support the
allegations against Eshel in a way that cannot be ignored, sources
involved in the investigation say.
R. still refuses to testify, let alone file a complaint against
Eshel. Weinstein will have to make a decision about how to pursue the
case if R. does not come forward.
On Sunday, an agreement was reached in Eshel´s case, which stipulates
that Netanyahu´s bureau chief will resign by March 1, and will commit
to never entering civil service in the future.
Eshel, who is charged with behavior unfettering a civil servant and
breaking civil service discipline, will also be severely reprimanded.
The deal also indicates that Eshel is to admit that he had nurtured
an excessively intimate relationship with R., a PMO worker, one
unbefitting and unacceptable between a superior and a subordinate in
the civil service.
Netanyahu´s bureau chief will also admit that this relationship
included a injury to both R. and her privacy through an unauthorized
use of her computer and the transference of her personal information
to other PMO officials, one not prompted by any professional
In addition, Eshel will admit to taking unacceptable pictures of R.
in various events.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein indicated that the Eshel´s
punishment and removal from public service represent an ethical
message to all civil servants, including top officials, that actions
such as those exposed in the inquiry will not be tolerated.
In response to the plea bargain, Esehl issued a statement, saying
that "for the last month I have been under a terrible attack and in
the middle of a storm that has turned my life and my family´s life to
an unbearable nightmare."
"In the last few days my attorneys presented to me a pleas bargain
that lifts the cloud of indecent acts and/or pictures and sexual
harassment off of my life once and for all, and puts an end to the
devil´s dance around me," he added, saying: "Now it is clear that the
interaction did not have a sexual nature."
The statement added that, "in retrospect, it is clear to me that I
was dragged into a too high a level of awareness in the affairs of
the office´s employee and that I should have avoided that."
"With the removal of the said cloud, and with consideration to my
age, health, and my desire to lighten the burden of my family, and
since I cannot bear the heavy financial burden of clearing my name, I
have decided, after consulting my wife and children, to accept the
deal, to admit a minor disciplinary offence, retire from my position,
and go on with my life," Eshel concluded. (© Copyright 2012 Ha´aretz
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