Netanyahu Aide Indicted for Showing Off Racy Eshel Photos

Ezra Seidoff, the deputy director for operations and assets in the PM's Office, is facing disciplinary trial for allegedly showing inappropriate photographs he found on a cellphone belonging to former bureau chief, Natan Eshel.

ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid
ברק רביד - צרובה
Barak Ravid

A close aide to the prime minister is facing a disciplinary trial for allegedly showing inappropriate photographs he found on a cellphone belonging to the prime minister's former bureau chief, Natan Eshel.

An indictment was filed on January 27 in the Civil Service Commission's disciplinary tribunal against Ezra Seidoff, the deputy director for operations and assets in the Prime Minister's Office.

The indictment describes a strange series of events in the most sensitive bureau in the country, which began in the summer of 2011. Eshel resigned last year after allegedly sexually harassing a subordinate by following her, searching her emails and taking improper photos of her with his cellphone camera.

Seidoff is considered one of the most powerful figures in the Prime Minister's Office and a confidant of the prime minister and his wife Sara.

"On or around June 26, 2011, the iPhone belonging to Mr. Natan Eshel, the prime minister's bureau chief, was given to ... the accused for repair," the indictment reads. It then goes on to state that Seidoff is accused of showing the pictures he found on Eshel's cellphone to others in the bureau.

"Thereafter he gave the cellphone to Mrs. Ophir Linor, the prime minister's secretary and to a [female] aide to the prime minister's bureau chief, to look at. This he did without Mr. Eshel's knowledge or permission," the indictment reads.

Last February, Channel 2 journalist Guy Peleg reported that ironically, it was Seidoff's alleged forbidden snooping on Eshel's cellphone that provided the "smoking gun" that revealed Eshel's actions toward the employee, known to the media only as R. Peleg reported at the time that female secretaries in the prime minister's bureau told investigators from the Civil Service Commission seeking evidence against Eshel that Seidoff had shown them the pictures. Eshel resigned, but the commission official in charge of disciplinary action, Assaf Rosenberg, thought Seidoff's actions were also unacceptable. When questioned under warning, Seidoff said he had not looked at the photos on Eshel's phone, but had only checked to see what was wrong with the phone.

The Civil Service Commission initially considered making do with reprimanding Seidoff, but finally decided to indict him in the commission's disciplinary tribunal.

In the language of the indictment, Eshel is not only an alleged perpetrator in the case, he is also a victim. "In [Seidoff's] actions the accused invaded Mr. Eshel's privacy and conducted himself in a manner unbecoming a state employee."

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, right, sitting next to Natan Eshel.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

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