The Labor Party received a blow to its election campaign after Uri Sagi, a former IDF general, announced on Wednesday he was relinquishing his bid to run on the party’s list amid allegations of sexual misconduct decades ago.
Sagi, who during his more than 30 years of service in the military rose to the rank of major general as head of the IDF’s intelligence branch, said he was leaving politics for health reasons less than a month after he declared his intention to run for office.
However, Channel 2 news reported later on Wednesday that the resignation came after Labor Party leader Shelley Yachimovich learned of a decades-old sexual misconduct accusation against Sagi. The woman reportedly contacted Yachimovich independently. The details of the claims were known only to a handful of Labor Party members and, following a meeting between Yachimovich and Sagi, the latter announced his resignation.
After Channel 2 broke the story behind the resignation, Sagi, 71, admitted that there were claims against him, and that they had brought about his decision to leave politics.
“Today, to my disappointment, it has become clear to me that I must face up to accusations and slurs, the nature of which have yet to be explained to me other than the fact that they happened 39 years ago,” Sagi said. “Even though they have no legal or public validity, it is clear to me that dealing with them is likely to damage my health and that of my family.”
“Sagi contributed much to the country, and I respect his decision,” Yachimovich said.
The development is widely seen as a serious setback for Labor, which had in Sagi a valuable asset thanks to his decades of national security expertise.