Police will summon Knesset Member Yinon Magal for questioning over allegations of sexual harassment of former employees, the Ynet news site reported Thursday.
Senior police officials said they believed Magal would be questioned in the coming days after investigators have been collecting testimony from former co-workers at Walla news, the report said. Magal served as editor-in-chief of the internet news site until late 2014, when he announced he was stepping down to run for a Knesset seat on the Jewish Home party’s slate.
Israel Police said Wednesday that it was opening an investigation into allegations of sexual misconduct after two women claimed that Magal made advances toward them during and after the period they worked under him at Walla.
In a Tuesday morning Facebook post, Walla reporter Racheli Rottner said Magal made lewd comments to her at his goodbye party, shortly before he entered politics. Hours later, Walla reporter Or Shukran went on Facebook to accuse Magal of “repeatedly stroking my behind, even after I asked him to stop,” an act that could be considered sexual assault.
The probe into the allegations was launched by the police’s high-level task force, Lahav 433, police said in a statement.
A source told Ynet that if the police receive formal complaints against Magal, he will be questioned under caution. In the absence of formal accusations, investigators will see if there is a case to be built based on testimonies they collect before putting a request to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein to question Magal.
As a serving Knesset member, Magal enjoys immunity from “searches, detention, criminal hearings and legal proceedings which are not connected with his work as a member of Knesset,” and only the parliament can lift a member’s immunity. An MK can also choose to forgo immunity.
Magal initially responded to the charges with his own post on the social media site, saying he had made comments that were inappropriate but would have expected friends to raise their concerns with him rather than “shaming” him in public. He later acknowledged “misconduct.”
He resigned Tuesday night from his position as Jewish Home’s Knesset faction chairman, a role comparable to the party’s parliamentary whip, after a meeting with party chief Education Minister Naftali Bennett during which they discussed the claims.
“I made a mistake in my past misconduct, which is even more unbecoming for the public official I am today,” Magal said in a statement Wednesday. “I apologize from the bottom of my heart to those who were hurt. I am determined to correct my behavior and also to repair things on the personal and family level.”
Magal told Bennett that none of the accusations against him constituted criminal offenses, and that the things he said to female employees were said in a “different spirit” from how they were being presented.
Stuart Winer contributed to this report.