Prison Service Chief Appointment Cancelled Over AG's Concerns

Public Security Minister says Eli Gavison will not be appointed as Israel Prison Services chief, following Yehuda Weinstein's warning of potential legal concerns; Aharon Franco is new candidate.

Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch announced Sunday night that Eli Gavison's appointment to head the Israel Prison Service has been cancelled. Instead, Jerusalem police chief Maj. Gen. Aharon Franco will be up for candidacy, said the minister.

Gavison, the agency's southern district commander, was tapped by Aharonovitch to succeed Benny Kaniak.

Eli Gavison
Dan Keinan

In the minister's announcement, he noted that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein had raised concerns over potential legal difficulties regarding Gavison's appointment, in light of new information that was made available to the attorney general only after he had sought approval from the Turkel committee regarding the appointment.

Earlier this month the senior appointments committee, which is headed by former Supreme Court Justice Jacob Turkel, asked Attorney General Weinstein to look into anonymous letters it received claiming "close personal" relationships between Gavison and five female employees. According to the letters, Gavison used his position to obtain unauthorized benefits for one of the woman.

The comptroller of the Public Security Ministry, Yitzhak Segev, received similar letters but decided the allegations did not warrant further investigation.

Weinstein, who has been preoccupied with his office's own examination of Gavison's candidacy, has yet to respond to the committee's request. He is expected to make a statement after reviewing the polygraph results.

In his appearance before the Turkel committee, Gavison vehemently denied the allegations in the letters, which he said were written by individuals seeking to blacken his reputation and derail his career.

When asked by the panel about the alleged favors that he arranged for a female associate, according to the letters, he said his actions did not violate any rules.

If his appointment is approved, Gavison will be the first IPS head to come from within the ranks of the organization.

Gavison, who began his prison service career in 1981, is widely respected within the agency.