Efi Naveh
Efi Navehצילום: מרים אלסטר, פלאש 90

Prosecutors have closed the criminal case against a former top Israeli jurist, ending a two-and-a-half-year debacle for a key ally in former Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s efforts to reform the judiciary.

On Sunday, acting state attorney Amit Aisman – who was appointed by acting Justice Minister Benny Gantz in January – announced that Deputy State Prosecutor for Criminal Matters Shlomo Lemberger has decided to close the bribery case against attorney Efi Naveh.

Naveh, who as chief of the Israel Bar Association has a seat on the Judicial Selection Committee, had worked closely with then-Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked in her efforts to reform the Israeli judiciary, working to appoint judges in line with Shaked’s conservative judicial philosophy.

In late 2018, however, Naveh become embroiled in multiple scandals, and in January 2019, he resigned as IBA chief after it was revealed that he had had an affair with a female attorney who was seeking Naveh’s support for the bid of her husband, a judge, to be appointed to a higher court.

Naveh was also accused of a similar sex-for-promotion arrangement, in which he had an intimate relationship with Eti Karif, a judge at the Netanya Magistrate Court, in exchange for promoting her advancement as a judge.

Investigators opened a probe into the two cases, amid concerns Naveh’s arrangements with the women had constituted bribery, leading then state attorney Shai Nitzan to say in December 2019 that Naveh would likely be indicted.

In Sunday’s announcement, Aisman said that the case would be dropped because there is “no reasonable chance for an indictment”, despite “serious factual evidence found in the investigation”.

Aisman nevertheless said that ‘mixed motivations’ involved would make it difficult to prove an explicit quid pro quo arrangement.