Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former bureau chief Natan Eshel arrives at the Civil Service Court Thursday, where he admitted to inappropriate conduct involving a female government employee. Eshel admitted to the charge of "taking an inappropriate photograph" of R., a Prime Minister's Office clerk.
The case is still pending before the Civil Service Disciplinary Board. If the board finds him guilty, a permanent censure will be recorded on his Civil Service file. "I apologize for everything. This has been an incredibly difficult time for me," he told the panel.
As part of the plea bargain reached in the case, Eshel admitted to having "an inappropriate attachment" to R., "In a manner unacceptable between a superior and a subordinate in the Civil Service."
Netanyahu (L) and Eshel (R). (Photo: Amit Shabi)
Civil Service Prosecutor Ayala Honigman-Ligtz told the panel that "The gravity of this chase goes beyond the acts Eshel admitted to, to the fact that this defendant held a senior office in the Service. "He was expected to behave impeccably and he failed miserably. The events he was convicted of were committed over time so he cannot argue that this was a one-time event," she said.
The prosecution, she added, considered the fact that Eshel admitted his guilt at an early stage of the proceeding, thus saving the Judiciary valuable time. "One cannot ignore the vast media coverage the case got – which is another price the defendant had to pay."
Attorney Yaakov Weinroth, for Eshel, asked the court to consider that the charges brought against his client were not of a sexual nature.
"We do not dispute the fact that his attachment (to R.) was inappropriate, but one must remember that in close relationships between people, there is a very fine line between patronage and other types of relationships. He crossed that line," Weinroth said.
A representative from the Prime Minister's Office submitted the bureau's stance in the case in writing. The panel is expected to decide on the matter in the coming days.
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