Immigration police on Sunday afternoon arrested “Virginia,” the illegal Filipina who worked for Defense Minister Ehud Barak and his wife, Nili Priel. The worker, who also goes by the name “Diana,” was arrested in South Tel Aviv.
The statement by the Defense Minister that he has no idea what is going on in his household raises serious doubts regarding his capabilities.
The worker was being questioned by police on Sunday night. Officials said that she had admitted her connections to the Baraks, and that Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein was likely to issue an indictment as a result.
Several weeks ago, Weinstein closed an investigation against Barak and Priel, which was opened over their employment of the worker. Police had been searching for the worker for nearly a year, after receiving information that two had employed an illegal worker without a permit. The worker did housekeeping for Barak and Priel, and after she left their employ, Priel claimed she had lost touch with her. Unable to produce the “evidence” that she had violated the law, Weinstein decided to close the case.
But just a few days later, Israel Radio military-affairs reporter Carmela Menashe dropped a bombshell: She had found the whereabouts of the worker, and had interviewed her at length. According to the worker, Priel knew how to get in touch with her, and even had her cell phone number. Several days later, the worker was interviewed on TV. Priel, fearing that the case would be reopened, confessed that she had employed the worker illegally, and offered to pay a fine – only to be told by officials in Weinstein's office that a fine might not be sufficient to exonerate her.
With Sunday's arrest, it is all but certain that the case against Barak and Priel will be reopened. Barak, for his part, has said that he had no idea that the worker was illegal, and that the hiring of staff was in wife's purview. Speaking Sunday night, MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union) said that under the circumstances, the Attorney General had no choice but to reopen the case. Eldad, who chairs the Knesset Lobby against corruption, asked Weinstein to issue a statement as soon possible on how he plans to proceed, and to attempt to save himself and the justice system from the embarrassment of having been unable to find the worker, when it appeared that every reporter in the country had been able to. “The Israeli public knows that when someone says that they 'can't,' it really means they 'don't want to,'” Eldad said.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel also issued a statement, saying that it hoped that the case would be reopened – and that Barak would be questioned - as it had requested the High Court order when it filed a petition in the matter. “The statement by the Defense Minister that he has no idea what is going on in his household raises serious doubts regarding his capabilities. It appears that we were right about the state being capable of action, when it wanted to be,” the statement said.