Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked on Wednesday addressed the affair that is shaking the Israeli legal world.
"This is a stormy day for me as the justice minister and as a woman," Shaked said, stressing that "the judges in Israel are doing their work faithfully, and hopefully the investigation will be completed soon. I was not summoned for testimony or interrogated. "
Israeli police are investigating serious allegations of bribery and sexual misconduct connected with the selection of judges, authorities revealed Wednesday morning.
According to a police spokesperson, the special anti-corruption division, Lahav 433, is investigating allegations that sexual favors were traded in exchange for the advancement of a judicial appointment.
The current investigation was launched two weeks ago, after police received information in the matter.
The case involves the appointment of a female justice of the peace several years ago and the attempted appointment of a female judge in a magistrate’s court.
On Wednesday, police arrested a lawyer in connection with the case, and called two other individuals of interest in for questioning. The suspect has been identified as a lawyer, while the two individuals called in for questioning are a judge and a lawyer, both females.
Police carried out a search and seized documents as part of the ongoing investigation.
The probe is being carried in coordination with the Central District prosecutor's office and is being opened with the approval of the Attorney General, Avichai Mandelblit, but he recused himself from dealing with the case due to his personal acquaintance with the central suspect. State Attorney Shai Nitzan is supervising the investigation.
Supreme Court President Esther Hayut and Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked published a joint statement following the announcement of the investigation. "In recent days there have been widespread rumors about the affair being investigated in Lahav 433, which concerns the appointment of judges," the statement said.
"Details were released today regarding the investigation, and it was clarified that there are suspicions of committing offenses of integrity in connection with the appointment of one justice of the peace several years ago and an attempt to bring a justice of the peace to the District Court who was not advanced.
"As a result of this publication, we saw fit to note that we are confident that the law enforcement system will investigate the affair to the fullest extent and arrive at the truth.
"We also found it worthy of mentioning that during the term of Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, as the chairperson of the Judicial Selection Committee, the committee appointed 334 judges and senior registrars in a rigorous and professional selection process. Alongside the minister in the committee are two members of the Knesset, the Minister of Finance, three Supreme Court justices, including the President of the Supreme Court, as well as two representatives of the Israel Bar.
Shaked and Hayut added: "The Israeli judiciary has male and female judges, male and female senior registrars who do their job faithfully, honestly and with dedication. It is to be hoped that the investigation will be completed as soon as possible in order to preserve the status of the judiciary and public trust in it. "
The chairman of the Israel Bar Association, attorney Effi Naveh, will take a leave of absence or will resign in light of the affair.