Veteran Likud politician Silvan Shalom resigned from political life on Sunday, as pressure mounted over an increasing number of allegations of sexual harassment by women who had worked with him.
(Update: The allegations against Shalom were not substantiated and the investigation was subsequently closed.)
In a statement released Sunday evening to announce his decision, the interior minister and vice prime minister cited the pressure on his family in the wake of the allegations.
“For 23 years I have served the public with dedication and devotion as a Knesset member and as minister in different roles, from a sense of calling and desire to promote important social and public issues,” he said.
“I am weary of the suffering that has been parceled out to my family, wife, children and elderly mother. My family fully supports me, but there is no justification for the price asked of them. For these reasons I have decided to resign my position as a minister and Knesset member.”
Shalom has maintained his innocence, but was slated to meet with Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Sunday evening to discuss the possibility of a criminal case against him.
Police have reportedly opened a probe into the complaints against Shalom and are gathering evidence and looking for potential witnesses to testify over the accusations.
Thirteen women have come forward to make allegations against Shalom, though none has apparently filed an official police complaint.
In her first response to the resignation, Shalom’s wife, Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, wrote on Twitter: “Sad, but my children above all.”
On Saturday, Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich, an old friend of Shalom, called on him to suspend himself from his political duties, while Meretz leader Zehava Galon urged Weinstein to instruct police to begin an examination of the case. Galon spoke hours before a Channel 2 report said that two women were willing to testify if their identities remain undisclosed.
Tunisian-born Shalom, 57, grew up in Beersheba 57. A father of five, he had been a Knesset member since 1992 and held a number of ministerial posts including foreign and finance.
Joshua Davidovich contributed to this report.