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Natan Eshel: Netanyahu's chief of staff embroiled in sex scandal

Natan Eshel has been accused of harassing a female staffer in Israel.
Israel pm chief of staff sex scandal 1 26 2012Enlarge
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu looks on during the weekly cabinet meeting in his offices on Dec. 25, 2011 in Jerusalem, Israel. Netanyahu has so far not commented on the sex scandal of his Chief of Staff Natan Eshel. (Uriel Sinai/Getty Images)

Israel’s attorney general, Yehuda Weinstein, is investigating a claim that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s chief of staff, Natan Eshel, harassed and stalked a female colleague.

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The woman, so far only identified as “R,” is said to have initially reported Eshel’s behavior two months ago while on a business trip to the United States during which Eshel is accused of following her, spying on her text messages and harassing her.

The woman reported the behavior to several colleagues within the prime minister’s office in real time, but declined to press charges. Her co-workers, who have not publically identified themselves but are said to include such senior officials as the prime minister’s military attaché, Maj. Gen. Yochanan Locker, and cabinet secretary Zvi Hauser, decided to alert the attorney general to their concerns.

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Netanyahu was not informed of the suspicions in order to “distance him from the affair,” according to Ha’aretz, Israel's largest daily newspaper.

Tension is running high in the prime minister’s office, where several members of the senior staff have already been questioned, according to the Israel radio reporter who broke the story Thursday morning. According to most reports, neither Eshel nor the woman are among those queried so far.

The Movement for Quality Government in Israel published a letter sent to Netanyahu Thursday that demanded, in light of the gravity of the accusations, that the prime minister immediately suspend Eshel. Netanyahu has so far not commented on the case.

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