Netanyahu's Former Chief of Staff Should Face Sex Charges, Police Recommend

Tel Aviv prosecutor's office will decide whether to indict Gil Shefer, who allegedly committed indecent acts against a woman he was driving home.

Former chief of staff in the prime minister's bureau Gil Shefer.
Motti Kimche

The Israel Police recommended on Sunday that the prime minister's former chief of staff, Gil Shefer, be indicted on charges of committing indecent acts against a woman.

The investigation into the case has concluded, the police announced in a statement, and sufficient evidence has been collected to charge Shefer.

However, police did not find sufficient evidence to indict Shefer on a charge of unlawful imprisonment.

The investigation began in October, following the filing of a police complaint by a performer who had been hired to perform at an event at which Shefer was present. The woman alleged that Shefer had committed indecent acts against her while the two were driving in his car.

She also claimed that Shefer took her against her will to a social event and prevented her from going home "in a manner that caused her to feel captive," according to the police statement.

Gil Shefer (second from right) next to Netanyahu and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, 2014.
Mark Israel Salem

Shefer, who was one of the people closest to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu when he worked in the PM's office, is currently honorary consul of Japan in Israel.

Shefer was questioned under caution by police about a month ago. Other people were also questioned. Eventually the police decided that they had sufficient evidentiary basis to take the case to court. The findings and supporting documentation have been transferred to the Tel Aviv prosecutor's office.

In 2012, as Shefer was preparing to take over as chief of staff in the prime minister's office, a woman complained that he had sexually assaulted her 15 years previously, while the two were together in a car. Shefer was acting chief of staff at the time, following the dismissal of Natan Eshel for harassing one of the female workers in the office.

Then-Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided against opening criminal proceedings against Shefer on the grounds that the alleged incident was outside the statute of limitations.

The incident came to life again in 2013, when the complainant provided new evidence to the attorney general. Weinstein did not change his opinion, but he alerted Netanyahu to his findings and transferred the material to the Civil Service Commissioner.

The commissioner decided against opening disciplinary proceedings against Shafer on the grounds that the alleged crime was not committed while he was a civil servant. In a surprise move in the summer of 2013, Shefer announced that he was resigning from his position.

The PM's bureau denied at the time that Shefer's resignation was connected to the suspicions against him. More recently, Shefer has been question in connection with investigations into the management of the prime minister's residence.

Associates of Shefer said at the time he was questioned that he acknowledged driving the performer but denied attacking her sexually. They explained that Shefer had introduced the woman to a few singers because he wanted to help her grow her career.

They added that the purpose of investigating Shefer had been to recruit his assistance in the prime minister's residence case and other cases involving Netanyahu.