Labor leader apologizes, will pay former MK for calling him a ‘sex offender’
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Labor leader apologizes, will pay former MK for calling him a ‘sex offender’

In settlement of libel suit over 2018 tweet, Avi Gabbay agrees to compensate Eitan Broshi, who was accused of sexual harassment by several women

Marissa Newman is The Times of Israel political correspondent.

Zionist Union MK Eitan Broshi is seen at the Knesset on July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)
Zionist Union MK Eitan Broshi is seen at the Knesset on July 18, 2018. (Hadas Parush/Flash90)

Labor leader Avi Gabbay apologized for calling a former party MK accused of sexual harassment a “sex offender” and will pay Eitan Broshi NIS 40,000 ($11,000) in damages after a settlement was reached in a libel suit on Monday.

In July 2018, Broshi faced accusations that he sexually harassed a woman 15 years earlier in an elevator, and claims that he sexually harassed and assaulted a female subordinate when he served as a battalion commander in the Israel Defense Forces. He had also recently touched a female MK from his party inappropriately, and then apologized for his actions.

At the time, Gabbay temporarily suspended Broshi and wrote in a tweet that “there is no place for sex offenders either on the streets or in the Knesset.”

Broshi then filed a libel suit for NIS 300,000 ($82,000) against Gabbay, which alleged that “the defendant held a humiliating trial by kangaroo court against the plaintiff in a post on Twitter, which quickly culminated in an ugly [online] lynching.”

Avi Gabbay, leader of the Labor party, seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv on February 13, 2019. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

In the settlement reached on Monday, Gabbay agreed to publicly apologize on social media for the characterization and pay Broshi NIS 40,000 in compensation to cover some of the legal fees.

“I would like to announce that I retract the comments I wrote and apologize to Eitan Broshi and his family,” Gabbay tweeted Monday. “There was no room or justification for the use of this term.”

Weeks before the lawsuit was filed,  Labor MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin accused Broshi of touching her on the buttocks during a field trip by members of the party. She subsequently accepted his apology.

Broshi’s lawsuit referred to that incident by saying that “to the plaintiff’s great sorrow, a situation was created that shouldn’t have occurred, whereby the plaintiff touched a female MK’s buttocks. The plaintiff never intended to harm her or others.

“After understanding his mistake, the plaintiff took responsibility for it and apologized to the MK,” the lawsuit added. “She accepted his sincere apology.”

Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin attends a Knesset committee meeting, November 2, 2016. (Miriam Alster/FLASH90)

The settlement culminates a bruising two months for Gabbay, who brought the Labor party to its worst ever outcome in the April elections and later was denounced by his party over negotiations with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to join his coalition, before subsequently rejecting the offer.

Broshi in January announced he would not seek reelection to the Knesset on the Labor list.

Michael Bachner and Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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