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Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch called in leading police officials yesterday to discuss the appointment of a new police chief.

Seven police major generals appeared in Aharonovitch's office one after the other, including Southern District commander Yohanan Danino and Tel Aviv District commander Shahar Ayalon, both considered leading candidates for the post.

Also called in were deputy police chief Ilan Franco, Jerusalem District commander Aharon Franco, Northern District commander Shimon Koren, Central District commander Bentzi Sau and operations department head Nissim Mor.

Just a formality?

Consulting with major generals before selecting a police commissioner is considered within the force as little more than a formality, as all of the officers suspect Aharonovitch has already made his decision.

Still, the public security minister asked the officers how they envisioned the term of the new police chief shaping up, what they feel the incoming commissioner's first order of business should be and what, in their view, are the most pressing problems currently afflicting the police force.

Each officer was also asked to state the names of two other major generals they believe to be worthy of the position.

Upon leaving Aharonovitch's office, none of the major generals said he had been informed of who the new police chief would be.

Bar-Lev faces third round of questioning

This morning Maj. Gen. Uri Bar-Lev will appear before the Justice Ministry's department for the investigation of police officers for a third round of questioning.

Bar-Lev, who had been the lead candidate for the position of commissioner, recently removed himself from the running and took a leave of absence, after two women accused him of improper sexual relations.

In recent days, investigators collected evidence from M., one of the two complainants, who is accusing Bar-Lev of raping her in a Herzliya hotel.

M. passed a police polygraph test this week aimed at corroborating her version of events.

She was asked, among other things, whether she had gone to the hotel knowing she would have sex with Bar-Lev, whether she was drugged upon arriving and whether their sexual relations had been consensual.

Investigators believe the allegations against Bar-Lev raised by the other complainant, Orly Innes, are well-founded, but that there are significant discrepancies between her account and that given by M.

It is far from certain, they said, that an indictment will ultimately be filed against Bar-Lev over Innes' allegations.