Two more women came forward Thursday to allege that Interior Minister Silvan Shalom sexually harassed them, bringing the number of complaints against him to seven, Channel 2 reported Thursday.
So far, none of the women has shown willingness to file a formal complaint with police.
Police are “gathering material” against Shalom, amid growing indications that a formal investigation may be ordered by the attorney general, Channel 2 news reported Thursday night. It also said unspecified women’s groups had received a further two complaints, which would bring the number to nine, but offered no more details.
(Update: The allegations against Shalom were not substantiated and a police investigation was subsequently closed.)
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich urged Shalom, who denies the allegations, to suspend himself; Meretz leader Zehava Galon called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order the Likud minister’s suspension.
Earlier Thursday, Shalom’s wife, Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, wrote a tweet that seemed to imply she was collecting information about the women who are claiming her husband harassed them.
“In the end I will speak. Each [of the women] has a past and a present and the facts are coming to my attention. For now, anyway, there is no chance of any objectivity and I’m not in the mood to badmouth [the women],” she tweeted. Minutes later, she deleted the tweet.
The two women who came forward on Thursday were not previously known to the police. They alleged instances of sexual harassment six and four years ago.
Allegations of sexual harassment already surfaced against Shalom a year and a half ago, when he was running for president.
The accounts of all women were similar and seemed to point to “a pattern” of alleged behavior by Shalom, Channel 2 said.
One woman who spoke out said the offenses against her were committed more than a decade ago – after the statute of limitations expired.
Since none of the women filed a formal complaint, police are not planning to take action for the time being.
On Wednesday, two former employees of Shalom described the minister’s alleged method.
One woman, identified in a report by Channel 2 news only by the initial G., told police that the interior minister made unwanted advances and physical contact with her frequently, to the point that she was worried about being alone with him.
“The first time happened on a trip abroad,” G. said. “Silvan asked me to come to his hotel room at the end of the day and there he waited for me without a robe, completely naked.”
“I heard the version of the first complainant and those were simply the same sentences he used,” G. said. “‘Come sit beside me, you do me good, this is our night now, this is our time, why don’t you love me too?’ Since then I was concerned about flying with him.”
She conveyed her account to Channel 2 hours after another woman leveled similar allegations against Shalom in an interview with the Hebrew-language newspaper Haaretz. Shalom denied the Haaretz account.
According to the unnamed woman in the Haaretz story, Shalom often tried to touch her when they were at work. On some occasions, when they were sitting together in the backseat of a car, he put his hand between her legs and tried to touch her. It was only because of the clothing she was wearing at the time that he failed to do so, she claimed.
Hotel visits were the most traumatic, as Shalom would call her to his room and grope her, she said. The woman asserted that she repeatedly pushed the minister’s hands away and told him to stop. Following the alleged hotel assaults, the woman claimed she was so upset it made her physically ill and she would sometimes miss days of work.
In an effort to prevent the unwanted advances, the woman said, she asked that another employee accompany her on occasions when she needed to work outside of the office with Shalom, to limit the amount of time she would have to spend alone with him.
The woman recalled that each time she rejected Shalom’s advances he would immediately stop, but then begin again later on. She stressed that she never agreed that Shalom touch her and that she never had sex with him.
The report did not say when the woman worked with Shalom or in what position.
Shalom has spent decades in politics, previously serving as foreign minister and a number of other high-level positions.
The woman insisted she is not seeking revenge and does not want to see the minister jailed.
According to the Haaretz report, the woman was asked to explain why she continued to work with Shalom for such an extended period and under such conditions, and why she bought the minister a going-away gift when she left. She countered that she loved her job but eventually the harassment became too much for her to bear.
In a statement, Shalom’s office rejected the allegations as baseless.
“These are claims that have no basis. The matter was thoroughly checked in the past by the enforcement authorities and, in accordance with a decision by the attorney general and the opinions of the police and the prosecutor, the matter ended with nothing.”
Knesset members from the opposition Meretz party on Wednesday turned to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and requested that he instruct police to conduct a criminal investigation into the allegations against Shalom.
In a letter, MKs Galon, Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg wrote: “An elected official cannot barricade himself in silence or suffice with a laconic denial in the media. He must give account and provide his version to the police.
“We request,” they continued, “that you instruct the police to summon Minister Shalom to an interrogation in light of repeated accusations of sexual harassment from his female subordinates.”
Allegations of sexual misconduct have dogged Shalom in the past and were apparently what prompted him to drop out of the 2014 race to become president.
Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.