Analysis / Cop-gate

We'll call him M. He was a veteran lower level policeman. One of the common folk. Last week an acquaintance asked him who he thought should be the next commissioner.

"Uri," M. said unhesitatingly, referring to Uri Bar-Lev, a candidate to succeed national police commissioner David Cohen. "Or Shahar," he added, meaning Tel Aviv district commander Shahar Ayalon. But Bar-Lev, M. said, "he's a leader. A commander with charisma. He'll give the police department a kick in the pants and move it forward."

Yet now it has been announced that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has launched a criminal sexual harassment investigation against Bar-Lev and has asked Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch to hold up Bar-Lev's appointment. The policeman on the beat doesn't choose who will head the police force. By law, that's up to the government. In practice, that means the public security minister, with the consent of the prime minister. And in recent years, prime ministers have not wanted to be seen as interfering.

The investigation of Bar-Lev should not be seen as scuttling an appointment that was about to move forward, but there is bad blood among some of the characters in this saga.

Cohen forced Bar-Lev out of the police force. He was then brought back into the force by Aharonovitch after the minister's appointment in 2009. Aharonovitch, who is a member of Yisrael Beiteinu, knows whatever his decision, he will be suspected as having been directly or indirectly influenced by the preferences of his party leader, Avigdor Lieberman, who has been under investigation for criminal wrongdoing for some time.

It is presumed that the senior appointment committee headed by retired Justice Jacob Turkel, when it comes to the commissioner's appointment, will raise this issue with Aharonovitch.