Justice Minister Haim Ramon has been barred from making any decisions on professional matters relevant to his ministry while a criminal investigation is being conducted against him.

The decision to restrict Ramon's activities was made last night by Attorney General Menachem Mazuz, following the start of a criminal investigation against the minister over allegations of sexual harassment against an officer serving in the military secretariat of the Prime Minister's Office.

The significance of this decision is that for the time being, Mazuz is not instructing the justice minister to take a leave of absence or suspend himself.

Mazuz and Ramon spoke last night, and the attorney general instructed the minister "to avoid handling matters that are inappropriate for him to dealing with while under criminal investigation."

A statement issued by the Justice Ministry did not specify which areas Ramon should refrain from handling; it merely referred generally to "matters related to law enforcement."

Sources close to Ramon said that the restrictions referred to specific and minor matters, but refused to give details.

Early next week, the attorney general and Ramon will meet to clarify details of the restrictions, which will be in force until the investigation ends. During this period, Mazuz will instruct Ramon on particular matters as they arise.

Ramon was questioned by the Fraud Squad for seven hours on Wednesday, and then asked Mazuz for advice on how he is expected to behave, "so that there will be no impression that I have any influence over the investigation."

Mazuz met with State Prosecutor Eran Shendar yesterday, as well as with the police officers in charge of the investigation. During the meeting, decisions were made regarding the investigation to ensure that it will be completed as soon as possible. It is expected to be completed in a matter of days.

Ometz, a nongovernmental organization that promotes quality government, urged Mazuz yesterday to order Ramon to suspend himself from his position as chairman of the judicial appointments committee while the investigation against him is ongoing.