Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein Yoni Reif
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein. Photo by Yoni Reif
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Israel's Population and Immigration Authority is planning to open a criminal investigation against Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's wife over allegations that she employed an illegal migrant worker in their home.

The Population and Immigration Authority had tried to put the prosecution in charge of the investigation, but the responsibility has ultimately fallen on the Authority.

Weinstein's office asked State Prosecutor Moshe Lador in the wake of a Haaretz expose on the matter to examine the circumstances surrounding the unlawful employment of a foreign worker in Weinstein's home.

In a response to a query from the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, senior assistant to the attorney general Raz Nizri wrote, "We asked the state prosecutor to treat the issue in accordance with standard practice vis-a-vis the relevant authorities, and obviously without any involvement on the part of our office."

The Haaretz article revealed that when Weinstein was instated as attorney general an Indian national was employed as a weekly cleaner in his home.

A Justice Ministry official told Haaretz then: "A worker of Indian origin was indeed employed in the Weinstein house in the past. The worker's employment ended in 2009, before Weinstein was appointed attorney general. At the time she hired the employee, Mrs. Weinstein checked and found that he was a legal worker who was in Israel legally. Beyond that, she did not seek any additional permit."

The incident is surprising in light of the fact that it was Weinstein who decided to prosecute Nili Priel, the wife of Defense Minister Ehud Barak, for unlawfully employing a foreign worker for a significant period. In addition, it was on Weinstein's behalf that a two-week manhunt was launched for Priel's former employee, a Filipina named Virginia.

In October Priel asked Weinstein to let her pay a fine in lieu of criminal proceedings, but the request was rejected. In a letter to Priel's attorney, Nizri wrote: "In accordance with the directives governing the prosecutors in the Immigration Authority, the circumstances of the case justified prosecution and not an administrative fine. This is because the case allegedly involves a foreign worker with a work permit for nursing care who worked for a fairly extended period as a housekeeper."

According to information obtained by Haaretz, Priel's indictment is imminent.

Israeli law strictly prohibits anyone without a permit from employing a foreign national. Such permits are issued only for the fields of construction, agriculture, certain industries, ethnic restaurants and home nursing care.

Foreign workers cannot be hired to work as cleaners, and only the employer to whom the permit was issued may hire a foreign national.
The man working in the Weinstein home came to Israel more than two years ago with a permit limiting his employment to home health care.

His employment in the home of the attorney general was clearly unlawful.
Individuals close to the worker said he spent a full year working once a week for the Weinsteins, and left only when he realized his employer was moving to "a senior government post."

He told the sources that Yehuda Weinstein was very kind to him. Before being appointed attorney general, Weinstein was a private defense attorney.

A Justice Ministry spokesman claimed that the man was fired a few months before Weinstein became attorney general, for entirely unrelated reasons.