The lawyer at the center of the scandal rocking Israel's judicial establishment has been named as Israel Bar Association Chairman Efraim Nave – known to all as “Effi.”
Nave was arrested Wednesday on suspicion of promoting judges in exchange for sexual favors. He was released to house arrest for eight days. According to the Israel Police, he appointed a female judge to a magistrate court, as well as another judge.
Nave has been a dominant and influential figure on Israel's legal scene since 2015, when he ousted the president of the Bar Association and took leadership of the professional organization that represents the country’s 59,000 attorneys.
In Israel, the Bar Association isn’t merely a professional club, but one whose leader wields substantial political power due to its permanent seat on the nine-member panel that appoints the country’s top legal officials.
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During his four years at the helm of the Bar Association, Nave has been seen as a close political ally of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and has been a key member of the panel whose support in committee votes has been crucial in helping the justice minister fulfill her goal of appointing a larger number of conservative and religious judges.
Nave’s muscular style and wheeling and dealing, as well as his close cooperation with Shaked in appointing judges, were at the center of an investigative report on the Uvda investigative news program. In the program, television cameras followed him to the Bar Association's annual conference in Eilat, and revealed the power and influence he wielded; it also showed the country's most powerful judges and politicians treating him in a deferential manner.
Shaked's partnership with Nave turned into a political headache for her when his name hit the headlines in October in a bizarre scandal. Nave was questioned by police for allegedly orchestrating a convoluted process to help a woman he was travelling with on vacation to leave the country and return while avoiding border control officials.
He was indicted in the case in December and charged with helping his travel companion enter Israel without showing her passport to authorities and doing the same upon re-entry. When interrogated by police, Nave said he had done so to avoid his wife discovering that she was travelling with him, which would cause him damage in what he called “difficult and painful divorce proceedings.”