Israel Bar Association President Admits Trying to Smuggle Girlfriend Into Country

Efraim Nave questioned by police, cites 'difficult and painful divorce proceedings'

Israel Bar Association President Efraim Nave
Idan Milman

The president of the Israel Bar Association was questioned by police early last week after allegedly attempting to help his travel companion enter the country without presenting her passport to border officials. The incident was reported several days later by Israel Television News. In a break with custom regarding public figures, the police and prosecutors did not publicize the investigation of Efraim Nave.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Guy Peleg reported on Israel Television News Thursday that Nave and his unnamed companion arrived at Ben-Gurion International Airport last week after traveling abroad. Nave allegedly tried to help the woman enter Israel without showing her passport to border control officials. He was reportedly detained, and after his identity was established approval was sought at the highest level of law enforcement for his questioning, Peleg reported.

Nave reportedly admitted to the suspicions against him, saying his actions were connected to his personal life.

Transcripts of Nave's interrogation were revealed on Israel's Channel 10 news on Monday. They show that Nave initially denied the allegations. However, after he was confronted with footage, Nave said he made "a terrible mistake."

"I didn't mean to deceive. It was a thing of the moment, after she [the unnamed woman] was in a total panick and asked me. I wasn't thinking through what I was doing," he said.

Later in the questioning, Nave was asked if the same was done when leaving the country. "Yes, we arrived at the airport and I didn't want my wife to know she's flying with me because of the divorce trial. She has no outstanding warrant barring her from leaving the country, she just went with me through the gate."

In a statement, Nave called the incident part of “difficult and painful divorce proceedings,” declined to comment in order to protect his family’s privacy and added that he hoped for an end to “the obsessive and hurtful attention to my life.”

>> A test to equality before the law in Israel | Editorial

The police attributed their decision not to disclose the investigation to privacy considerations, but refused to say why the fact of the investigation had to be kept secret. The prosecutor’s office declined to answer questions from TheMarker/Haaretz.

As the head of the bar association, Nave is also a member of the judicial appointments committee. In that capacity, he has great influence over the careers of judges, including any who might be scheduled to hear his trial in the event of his prosecution in connection with last week’s events. Nave is considered close to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and together they wield great influence over judicial appointments.

Asked whether she would call for Nave’s resignation from the committee, Shaked’s office issued a statement on her behalf calling for a halt to what it dubbed a “witch hunt” against public figures questioned by the police. Shaked did not change her stance even when told that Nave had admitted to the allegations against him.

On Sunday, Shaked’s office issued another statement saying that, after the matter is reviewed, the Justice Ministry will consider the propriety of Nave’s participation in the next judicial appointments committee meeting.