David Cohen, Yitzhak Aharonovitch Moti Kimche
Police chief David Cohen, left, with Minister of Public Security Yitzhak Aharonovitch earlier this year. Photo by Moti Kimche
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Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch is expected to announce the next police commissioner within 10 days or so, after the probe into Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev's alleged sex offenses, officials said yesterday.

Also over the weekend, former Police Commissioner Assaf Hefetz called for an investigation into Commissioner David Cohen's involvement in the Bar-Lev affair. Hefetz said Cohen had known about the incident with Orly Innes, who has accused Bar-Lev of sex offenses. Hefetz said Cohen had seen to it that she complain against Bar-Lev.

Aharonovitch told Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and Justice Minister Yitzhak Neeman on Thursday that he would accelerate the process to appoint a new police commissioner, whose name would be announced after obtaining Weinstein's approval, officials said.

Aharonovitch had planned to hold meetings with police major generals contending for the commissioner's post and make his choice by the end of December or the beginning of January. But Weinstein instructed him to hold up the process following the investigation against Bar-Lev by the Justice Ministry's Police Investigations Department.

Now Aharonovitch plans to appoint the next commissioner without further delay, believing that the brouhaha over the appointment process is causing the police grave damage, officials said.

There has been speculation in recent days that Aharonovitch will pick someone who is not among the leading candidates. The names of Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco, Prison Service Commissioner Benny Kaniak and even Miki Levy, former Jerusalem police commander, have been mentioned as possible candidates.

A source in the Public Security Ministry said over the weekend the commissioner's appointment may be a surprise. The source said Aharonovitch may have already made up his mind about the next commissioner.

The investigations department is expected to complete its Bar-Lev probe in the next few days. The inquiry is focusing on corroborating the testimony of one of the complainants, who said she had been drugged in a Herzliya hotel and then raped by Bar-Lev.

Sources close to Bar-Lev said the police major general had been told at his last interview with investigators that he would not be called in for questioning again.

Over the weekend, Hefetz called for a probe into the involvement of senior police officers including Cohen in the Bar-Lev affair.

A senior police source told Haaretz that Hefetz's accusations were groundless and Cohen was not involved in any way in Innes' decision to lodge a complaint against Bar-Lev.

Cohen's past dispute with Bar-Lev was out in the open and even reached the High Court of Justice, so Cohen had no need to hide, the source said.