Thursday, December 26, 2019

2019-12-26 Sex, bribes and recordings rocking the Israeli justice system

Sex, bribes and recordings rocking the Israeli justice system
Media report that the entire content of former Chairman of the Israel Bar Association Effi Naveh’s mobile phone was leaked. It is only the latest scandal plaguing the Israeli justice system, already under siege since entering a head-on collision with Prime Minister Netanyahu.

Tel-Aviv, December 26 – on Tuesday evening, Channel 13 News Doron Herman (head of the criminal desk) and Maor Tzur (crime reporter) announced a dramatic expose’:  [i]
Wikileaks of the justice system...Thousands of files, including sensitive conversations by Effi Naveh and Supreme Court, district judges, prosecutors, ministers, journalists and female attorney ***were leaked***. Some fell into the hands of elements related to crime organizations.
Naveh is the disgraced, former Chair of the Israel Bar Association. In recent years, together with his partner, right-wing justice minister Ayelet Shaked, he reigned as deal maker of the Judicial Appointment Committee, reshaping the Israeli justice system (Figure 1).
Figure 1. Election ad by Effi Naveh’s partner, former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, boasting “the perfume that lefties wouldn’t love… a revolution in judicial appointments… to me it smells as democracy” [ii]
Reporter Tzur summarized the news: [iii]
The implication of the leak of the materials from Efi Naveh’s device may be weighty.  These are sensitive conversations among the highest levels of law and justice agencies, which may be used to extort and pervert court actions. It involves attorneys, judges, politicians and journalists...
Nobody doubted the authenticity of the materials leaked from Naveh’s mobile device.
Later that evening, Barak Cohen, a notorious, dissident attorney added: [iv,v]
Evidence may be exposed of alleged bribing offenses involving senior judges.
Attorney Cohen is one that should know… it appears that he or others may have held some early copies of at least some of the materials from Naveh’s mobile device.
A sample recording was published several months ago: [vi]
I’ve met today somewhere around 10 candidates for the Supreme Court… except for licking my a@#@$*e they have done it all...
Avishai Grinzaig, Globes law correspondent added his speculations: [vii]
Effi Naveh’s entire mobile is out there, the strongest man in the justice system in recent years.  Figure out for yourselves what it means.
Crazy expose’ by Channel 13’s Doron Herman and Maoz Zur.
It is obvious that the leak did not originate in police, neither the State Prosecution, but a different person, who thoroughly cataloged all materials in the device.
This is unbelievable.
Later that evening, Herman wrote: [viii]
One female judge went home, but dozens of other judges remain exposed, recorded, in their most personal moments, embarrassed and vulnerable to extortion.  And now it has fallen into the hands of elements that are not related to the Naveh affair at all. Is this the outcome that the State Prosecution anticipated?  Not to mention my journalist colleagues, who are exposed to everyone in private conversations.  Sad
Angry comments on Herman’s post included calls, urging criminal prosecution of those who were involved in the leak…
Sex for Judicial Appointments
The statement, “one female judge went home, but dozens of other judges remain exposed...”, refers to the scandal named “Sex for Judicial Appointments”. It exploded in January 2019, immediately after Naveh’s device was hacked.  The materials included evidence of sexual favors, provided to Efi Naveh by female candidates for judicial appointments.  By September 2019, police completed the investigation and recommended the filing of indictments.  By December, the State Prosecution issued a statement, indicating its intention to file indictments, subject to hearings with the suspects.
“Sex for Judicial Appointments” wasn’t Naveh’s first brush with the criminal justice system. In October 2018, Naveh was caught smuggling his girlfriend out and into Israel for a vacation in Thailand. The motive for the bizarre conduct was claimed to be the desire to hide their vacation abroad, since Naveh was in the middle of a nasty divorce process.
A leak – or a not so veiled threat by Naveh? Gag orders are the remedy...
Later on Christmas Eve, Sharon Shpurer published her take on the dramatic expose’. Shpurer is a courageous independent investigative journalist, who perhaps was the first to tackle corruption of the Israel Bar Association.  She had suffered serious retaliation.
Shpurer wrote: [ix]
Journos got mixed up.  Concern is not of Naveh’s mobile leak serving criminal elements for extorting the judges, but that the criminal named Effi Naveh, in collusion with several other criminals, extorted corrupt judges, and now it will all leak out.
This is what people close to Naveh previously informed journalist Amnon Abramowitch.  This is extortion
Shpurer continued by quoting her own older post, referring to a TV appearance by journalist Amnon Abramowitch on the same issue:
… How he [Naveh -jz] sneaked in his representative into the Judicial Appointments Committee, and how he provided her with arbitration jobs.
But Abramowitch did not end with that.  He also forwarded a message from Naveh’s circle, which sounded intimidating: “Persons close to Effi Naveh state the following.  If a trial is conducted, it would drag in retired judges and judges still holding office, and it would be a major embarrassment.” Then he added: “I believe that they have more dignified arguments than this one.”
At this stage, he [Abramowitch - jz] pulled out a document, which was partly redacted, and said: “Let’s see what we have here.  Naveh is transferring arbitration jobs to the son of a judge, which is facing promotion, who has just opened a law office. He transferred the arbitration on the day that the office was opened.  Therefore, any investigation should be of financial nature.”
Gur Megido, senior writer at The Marker, added the next morning:
Doron Herman and Maor Tzur broght us a great story yesterday.  No cynicism.
My feeling is that it lacked a disclosure regarding the friendship with the subject of the report.
The Twitter post included a photograph of Effi Naveh and Doron Herman in great celebratory mood (Figure 2). [x]
Figure 2. Former Israel Bar Association Effi Naveh (in blue shirt) with reporter Doron Herman (in white shirt), who published the sensational “expose’” earlier this week.
The entire affair appears as a repeat of the clash between “Kabbalist” Joshia Pinto and the justice system. Pinto won a scandalously lenient plea bargain agreement for bribing the top echelons of the Israel police after exposing and eliminating the head of the ‘Israeli FBI” and head of the Israel Police National Fraud Unit. [xi]
Wednesday morning, The Marker summarized the situation regarding the Naveh leak: [xii]
Transcript of a conversation between former Chair of the Israel Bar Association, Effi Naveh, and a senior judge - still holding office – was circulating yesterday in social networks.  The transcript is under gag order by the Tel-Aviv Magistrate Court, pertaining to any details from Naveh’s cellular devices…  The circulation of the transcript … also raises a fundamental legal-moral issue: Can a senior judge continue holding his office... after exceptionally explosive material pertaining to him has been published (even if not officially)?
Hague International Criminal Court
The Naveh leak was only the latest in a series of events undermining credibility of the Israeli justice system:
A week ago , the Hague International Criminal Court’s Chief Prosecutor Fatou Bensouda issued a statement announcing the “preliminary examination into the Situation in Palestine has concluded with the determination that all the statutory criteria under the Rome Statute for the opening of an investigation have been met.” She also sought a ruling on the scope of the Court’s territorial jurisdiction.
The ruling on jurisdiction is likely to also involve preliminary arguments regarding competence of the Israel justice system.
In parallel, the Israeli Attorney General issued an opinion, arguing that the ICC in the Hague had no jurisdiction over Israel. Israel and the US have never joined the Rome Statute, which established the ICC Hague.  The Statute explicitly makes it a war crime to settle civilians of the occupying nation in occupied territories...
Interim PM Netanyahu – running for office with three corruption indictments
Also last week, the Supreme Court ordered the Attorney General to issue an opinion regarding competence of Netanyahu, with 3 indictments for corruption, to be appointed Prime Minister in case he wins the March 2020 general election.  The ruling stems from an unprecedented petition, pending before the Israeli Supreme Court, asking the Court to rule that regardless of outcome of the March 2020 general election (the third within a year) Netanyahu should be barred from heading the government, given that he is facing three indictments on corruption matters (bribes, deceit, breach of trust).  [xiii]
The deadline for filing the Attorney General’s opinion was set for today (Thursday). However, the Attorney General failed to file his opinion, instead filing today a paper urging the Supreme Court to summarily dismiss the petition. [xiv]
The general election in Israel is not personal, but Netanyahu heads the Likud party, which came in second in the September 2019 election, and was tied in first place in the April 2019 election. Neither election resulted in the formation of a new government. Therefore,  Netanyahu’s government continues to act as an interim government for over a year.
The repeat elections are perceived by many as driven by Netanyahu’s initial desire to postpone the filing of the indictments, and when that failed – his desire to gain immunity from prosecution.
The Supreme Court is reluctant to rule of the petition, since it may be perceived as unreasonable interference in the political process in a situation, which is not provided for by law.
The petition is part of the larger picture – a “constitutional crisis”in a nation with no constitution.
A justice minister undermining the justice system 
Also last week, in a remarkable sequence of events, the Supreme Court issued a decree against the appointment of Deputy Tel-Aviv District Attorney Orly Ben-Ari as Interim State Attorney.  Interim Justice Minister Ohana announced in response that the decree was invalid, since it was rendered after he had already signed Ben-Ari’s appointment.  However, the next day Ben-Ari resigned, stating that her appointment had created a major rift within the justice system. [xv]
If Justice Miniter Shaked was perceived as a bulldozer, threatening the justice system, her replacement, Interim Justice Minister Amir Ohana, a staunch Netanyahu supporter, has engaged in more blatant attacks on the State Prosecution and the courts. [xvi]
The attacks on the justice system are part of efforts by Netanyahu’s supporters to undermine credibility of the justice system and its ability to handle Netanyahu’s indictments. Indeed, in recent months various pundits and political figures have called for issuing an a priori pardon to Netanyah in exchange for his retiring from public life. The main justification for such move is to protect the justice system from major damage that would be incurred by handling the Netanyahu indictments...
In response, Supreme Court justices and senior State Attorney Office officers have been making the rounds in media and in public conferences – calling for the public to stand behind the justice system… [xvii]
Ben-Ari’s appointment as Interim State Attorney  and its aftermath were part of such dynamics. In doing so, Ohana bypassed the candidates that had been recommended by the Attorney General.
Immediately after the announcement of Ben-Ari’s appointment, vague defamatory news were leaked (probably by the State Attorney’s office itself) that Ben-Ari had been involved in perversion of justice in a major criminal case. However, the initial round of news failed to provide details, claiming that the matter had been under a continuing gag orders for years (if true – a bizarre phenomenon by itself).
By the next day, the detailed story was published: Ben Ari allegedly suborned perjury by inducing a key witness to give false testimony in the murder trial of Nir Haziza. Haziza was eventually convicted and sentenced to life in prison.
Request was filed last week with the Administration of Courts by this author - to clarify what part of the story, if any, was covered by a gag order.  The Administration of Courts has responded with a cryptic message, claiming that it “couldn’t comment on a pending matter”, but failing to state whether there was or there wasn’t a gag order in place on the case of Ben-Ari’s alleged suborning perjury.  The case demonstrates the unusual state of affairs in Israel, where the number of gag orders has dramatically increased in recent years, but there is no way to clearly ascertain what is or isn’t under gag order in the first place...
It should be noted that for about a year no, all government appointments are “interim” appointments, in the absence of a government, supported by majority in parliament (Knesset) – Interim Prime Minister, Interim Justice Minister, Interim State Attorney, and pro-tem Police Chief for over a year...
Fraud, general lack of integrity in the Israeli justice system
The Human Rights Alert NGO submission to the UN Human Rights Council for the 2018 Universal Periodic Review of Israel focused on fraud and perversion of justice through the fabrication/adulteration of legal and judicial records. [xviii] Following review by the Council’s professional staff, the submission was incorporated into the final report on Israel (2018) with the note:
24. HRA-NGO highlighted the serious deterioration in integrity of law and justice agencies... It affirmed that the validity and integrity of any legal and judicial records of Israel should be deemed dubious at best.
Corruption and “National Resilience”
In last summer’s prestigious 3-day national security conference, organizer major general (ret) Amos Gilead stated that corruption should be considered a major factor in “National Resilience”, likening Israel to "a house covered by a steel shield, being eaten by termites from the inside". [xix]
xii Bini Ashkenazi, Transcript of conversation between Naveh and a senior judge is rocking the justice system | The Marker
xiiiJoseph Zernik, Netanyahu's corruption investigations: Government as a crime organization? |
xiv Attorney General Mandelblit: Supreme Court should first decide whether to summarily dismiss the petition on Netanyahu’s competence | Haaretz [Hebrew]
xvHigh Court freezes controversial interim state attorney appointment | Times of Israel
xviJustice minister’s claim that a High Court ruling enabled terror attack queried | Times of Israel
Comptroller punts on Ohana invite to probe entire law enforcement system | Jerusalem Post
Yedidia Z. Stern, Assault on Israel's Judicial System: The Angel of History is Watching Us | Israel Democracy Institute
xviiIsraeli Supreme Court Justice: Justice Minister's Criticism 'Makes It Difficult for System to Function' | Haaretz
Chief Justice warns of politicizing the judicial system | Ynet
xviii Joseph Zernik, Widespread corruption of the Israeli courts alleged in reports filed with UN Human Rights Council |
xix Joseph Zernik, Government corruption in Israel: "A house bearing a steel shield, eaten by termites from the inside"… |