Eli Gavison - Dan Keinan
Eli Gavison. Photo by Dan Keinan
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Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch has rescinded his support for Eli Gavison as head of the Israel Prison Service over concerns about anonymous allegations that he used his position to obtain unauthorized benefits improving the work conditions of a female employee with whom he reputedly had a close personal relationship.

Aharonovitch's pick for head of the prison service is now Jerusalem police chief Aharon Franco, not Gavison, who currently heads the prison service's southern district, the minister announced last night.

"I realized that the chances of appointing Maj. Gen. Gavison as prison service commissioner at this time are not good," said Aharonovitch.

He said Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had raised concerns over potential legal difficulties regarding Gavison's appointment.

Gavison plans to file a petition to the High Court of Justice against the decision, said his lawyer, Boaz Ben Zur.

Earlier this month the senior appointments committee headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel asked Weinstein to look into the anonymous letters that made the allegations against Gavison.

Gavison failed several questions on a polygraph test he took more than a week ago. The test asked about his conduct in the prison service and his ethics.

Gavison says the polygraph test was not conducted in accordance with accepted procedures, and the issue is expected to feature prominently in his High Court petition.

In his appearance before the Turkel committee, Gavison vehemently denied the allegations in the letters, which he said were written by individuals seeking to tar his reputation and derail his career. When asked about the favors the letters accused him of providing, he said his actions did not violate any regulations.

Aharonovitch announced his intention to appoint Gavison several months ago, after getting the green light from the ministry's comptroller, Yitzhak Segev, who looked into the allegations.

If appointed, Gavison would have been the first prison service head to be promoted from within the organization.