Labor MK set to sue party leader for calling him a ‘sex offender’
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Labor MK set to sue party leader for calling him a ‘sex offender’

Avi Gabbay refuses to walk back tweet about lawmaker Eitan Broshi, who has been accused of sexual misconduct

Labor Party MK Eitan Broshi, of the Zionist Union faction, is seen during a Knesset Finance Committee meeting on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Labor Party MK Eitan Broshi, of the Zionist Union faction, is seen during a Knesset Finance Committee meeting on April 30, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

A Labor lawmaker who gave an ultimatum to his party’s leader, Avi Gabbay, demanding an apology for calling him a “sex offender,” was gearing up Tuesday to file a libel suit for NIS 300,000 after Gabbay refused to back down from the comment.

An attorney for MK Eitan Broshi told the Kan public broadcaster on Tuesday that a lawsuit would be filed later in the day.

Saying that unlike Gabbay, he didn’t write in haste and strove to ensure accuracy, he declared that his filing would be well-written and submitted only when it was ready. “By 9 p.m. I did not receive an apology, so we will begin the process of preparing,” he said.

Broshi has faced calls from members of his own party to step down in light of accusations that he sexually harassed a woman 15 years ago in an elevator. He also recently touched a female MK from his party inappropriately, and then apologized for his action.

The Labor party, together with the Hatnua party, forms the main opposition faction, the Zionist Union.

After the alleged elevator assault was reported by Channel 10 news on Sunday, Gabbay, who is also the Zionist Union leader, temporarily suspended Broshi and wrote in a tweet that “there is no place for sex offenders either on the streets or in the Knesset.”

Zionist Union chairman Avi Gabbay leads a faction meeting in Knesset on May 7, 2018. (Miriam Alster/Flash90)

In a letter Monday to Gabbay, Bombach warned that if no apology was given and the tweet removed by 9 p.m., Broshi will sue for NIS 300,000 ($82,000).

Broshi denies any wrongdoing.

Gabbay responded to the letter by declaring “a secure and protected public space for women is a goal that we will continue to fight for. Attempts to intimidate will have no influence on the matter.”

Sources close to the Labor leader stressed that he has no intention of apologizing and maintains his stance regarding Broshi.

On Sunday Gabbay, who is currently vacationing overseas, tweeted that he had spoken to Broshi and informed him that he had been suspended from party activities. Gabbay does not have the authority to remove Broshi from the Knesset.

“I asked him to accept responsibility for his deplorable actions and to leave the Knesset,” Gabbay tweeted. “There is no place for sex offenders either on the streets or in the Knesset.”

The Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel said Monday it had new testimonies on other inappropriate actions by Broshi that were committed since he became an MK in 2015, according to the Kan public broadcaster.

Kan said that Labor MKs have received reports from others of alleged sexual harassment committed in the past.

The developments come less than two weeks after Labor MK Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin accused Broshi of touching her on the buttocks during a field trip by members of the opposition party. She subsequently accepted his apology.

If Broshi were to resign from the Knesset, which has just begun a three-month summer recess, he would be replaced by anti-corruption activist Eldad Yaniv, who has led weekly rallies against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the last year and a half.

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