Prosecutors won’t charge ex-head of Israel Bar Association over sex scandal

Suspicions that Efi Nave pushed appointment of Judge Eti Craif for sexual favors dropped, as chances of conviction assessed as low

Efi Nave in the Lod Magistrate's Court in Lod, on April 28, 2019. (Flash90)
Efi Nave in the Lod Magistrate's Court in Lod, on April 28, 2019. (Flash90)

The state prosecution announced Sunday that it had closed the criminal case into the former head of the Israel Bar Association, who had been suspected of advocating for the judicial appointment of a woman with whom he was romantically involved.

Neither Efi Nave nor Eti Craif, a judge on the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court,  will be charged.

Nave, who resigned as head of the bar association after his arrest in 2019, was one of the nine members of the powerful Judicial Appointments Committee, which decides on placement and promotions for judges in Israel’s three-tiered judicial system. The position gave him outsize influence in helping lawyers advance in their careers — a role he was suspected of exploiting for sex.

The case was closed, however, after the prosecutors assessed the chances of conviction to be low. The Tel Aviv District Attorney’s Office had previously announced it would charge both Nave and Craif with bribery.

Magistrate Eti Craif. (Israel Courts web site)

According to prosecutors in December 2019, Nave worked on numerous occasions to advance Craif’s appointment as a judge, despite the conflict of interest owing to his relationship with her.

A letter of suspicions sent to the pair’s lawyers said that after applying for a judicial position in 2013, Craif reached out to Nave, then head of the bar association’s Tel Aviv district, owing to his ties on the Judicial Appointments Committee.

The two kept in touch by phone “and even had an intimate meeting at Craif’s house,” the letter said.

Prosecutors said Craif and Nave stayed in contact until his appointment as bar association head in 2015, when, being aware of his romantic interest in her and ability to advance her appointment, she “encouraged… the intimate-flirtatious connection with him.”

“The two even had an additional intimate meeting at her home, at the height of the of her judicial appointment proceeding,” according to the letter.

As she developed the “intimate relationship” between them, prosecutors said Craif asked Nave numerous times to work to advance her appointment, “in a way that bound the things to each other.”

Efi Nave is seen inside a car after being released from house arrest, January 23, 2019. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

She was eventually appointed as a judge on the Rishon Lezion Magistrate’s Court in 2016.

Lawyers for Nave had noted Craif’s appointment was supported by most of the selections committee and said the investigation was “born in sin.”

That comment was in reference to a civil lawsuit Nave filed in February 2019 against Army Radio and a number of its journalists who obtained his cellphone and extracted possibly incriminating messages from the device relating to the alleged sex scandal.

Nave will also not be charged over suspicions he acted on behalf of another attorney and a legal specialist from the private sector, with whom police said he was having affairs.

Nave was indicted in 2018 on suspicion that he smuggled a female acquaintance out of the country for a trip abroad, and then tried to slip her back unregistered through border control.

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