Foreign Ministry Strike May Delay Probe Into Frenkel Shoplifting Affair

Ministry staff, whose assistance is vital in order to clarify the Hong Kong thieving affair, say they do not consider Frenkel’s appointment cause to break strike.

Bloomberg

Jacob Frenkel’s appointment as governor of the Bank of Israel may be delayed due to the partial strike by Finance Ministry staff.

A cloud formed over Frenkel’s confirmation as the next governor of the Bank of Israel 10 days ago, after it emerged that he had been accused of stealing a bottle of cologne from a duty-free shop in the Hong Kong airport in 2006.

The Turkel committee, which vets senior civil servants’ appointments, has asked Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to look into the matter before it approves Frenkel’s appointment.

The ministry staff, whose assistance is vital in order to clarify the affair, said they do not see Frenkel’s appointment as cause to break the strike. In any case, Frenkel is supposed to enter office, if his appointment goes through, only on October 1, a staff spokesman said.

If Former High Court Justice Jacob Turkel and Weinstein decide to go ahead with Frenkel’s appointment process despite the strike, they will need the workers’ strike committee to authorize working on the Frenkel affair.

The strike will disrupt the contacts between the Israeli consulate in Hong Kong and local authorities there, and delay the ministry’s assistance in providing information on the case to the Turkel committee and Weinstein. It will also prevent a detailed interview with Israel’s consul in Hong Kong, Eli Gil.

Gil, who was rushed to the airport in 2006 to help Frenkel out of his run-in with the Hong Kong authorities, gave the details on the telephone to the Foreign Ministry’s legal advisor last week. However, additional details may be required as well as a confrontation between Gil and Frenkel, should any contradictions arise between their stories.

Gil was the one who reported the incident to the ministry heads and told them of the woman who had accompanied Frenkel on his trip and was with him at the duty-free shop; her testimony may also be required. Gil also reported putting Frenkel in touch with the attorney who handled his exit permit from Hong Kong, after a 24-hour delay.

The Foreign Ministry union yesterday sent telegrams to all the diplomats and officials concerned, saying “Frenkel was treated like any Israeli citizen abroad. There’s no justification to break the strike in this case, just as we don’t handle issues associated with Israelis abroad during a strike, except for cases involving life and death."