Israel Bar Association Head Charged With Smuggling Girlfriend Into Country

According to the charge sheet, the chairman and his girlfriend planned to go on vacation in Thailand without the knowledge of the former's wife

Efraim Nave.
Tomer Appelbaum

The chairman of the Israel Bar Association and his girlfriend were indicted Tuesday on charges of fraud and illegal exit and entry.

The charges follow Efraim Nave’s attempt to smuggle Bar Katz past Israeli border control without having the latter’s passport stamped in early October. Katz was also charged.

The indictment gives the motive as an attempt by Nave to gain advantage over his wife in their divorce proceedings.

Nave and people representing him have denied the allegation.

After the charges were issued, Nave announced his resignation from the state judicial appointments committee, but he does not appear to be willing to step down as head of the bar association.

Nave called the indictment “surreal” and said it stemmed from “selective enforcement.” He said that the facts of the case would come to light in an episode of Israel’s TV news magazine “Uvda” scheduled to air this week.

According to the charge sheet, Nave and Katz planned to go on vacation in Thailand without the knowledge of Nave’s wife. The couple, who are separated, are working through their divorce and are fighting over their jointly owned apartment.

The plan was for Katz to exit and reenter Israel without presenting her passport to border control agents or a scanner. The goal was to avoid creating official documentation of Katz’s travels, making it appear that Nave traveled abroad alone, the indictment states.

Their attempt to evade passport control was low-tech: Nave allegedly gave Katz the paper slip printed by border control agents after having his passport reviewed, and she used it to open the gate to continue to her flight. Nave squeezed into the gate behind another passenger — an acquaintance who is dating a relative of his. Katz and Nave were not caught at the time.

When they returned from their vacation, they allegedly attempted the same method to smuggle Katz back into Israel, except with the two passing through the same gate via Nave’s paper slip. This time, they were caught and taken for questioning.

During questioning, Nave allegedly behaved in a way unbecoming of his position. According to the indictment, during questioning Nave acted as if he didn’t know what the border agent was talking about, and said he didn’t even know Katz. The agent was not convinced, and held the two for further questioning.

Nave’s lawyer, Boaz Ben-Zur, said in a response that they were surprised by the timing of the indictment, given that Ben-Zur’s mother had been buried that day, and given that the “Uvda” investigation was about to air. He noted that one of the main charges had been dropped from the draft indictment.