Officials in the Likud party are signaling to Interior Minister Silvan Shalom that he should resign his post, as the number of women accusing him of sexual harassment grows, Channel 2 television reported Friday.
While no complaints have been made to police, the number of women publicly alleging that the 57-year-old Shalom sexually harassed them stands at seven. Shalom has strenuously denied the allegations.
(Update: The allegations against Shalom were not substantiated and a police investigation was subsequently closed.)
Channel 2 on Friday night aired comments by a new accuser, who said that the Likud stalwart, who is also vice prime minister, had “touched himself in a sexual manner” during professional encounters in his office, and alleged other acts of harassment.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein will convene a special meeting of senior law enforcement officials Sunday to consider ordering an investigation into the multiple allegations made in recent days against Shalom.
Police are reportedly gathering material against Shalom in case the attorney general orders an investigation. There may be two additional complaints that were received by a women’s group but were not made public, Channel 2 said Thursday.
The Sunday meeting will include senior Justice Ministry and police officials, and will decide, among other things, which law enforcement agency would conduct the investigation. According to Walla, the investigation is expected to be handed to the police’s top anti-corruption body, Lahav 433.
Investigators will approach the women who made the accusations in order to determine if evidence exists for a criminal investigation. They will also ask the women to file formal complaints.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yachimovich has urged Shalom to suspend himself; Meretz leader Zehava Galon called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to order his suspension.
Israel has in recent years been hit by a series of sexual harassment cases involving public officials. Former president Moshe Katsav is currently serving a seven-year sentence for rape. Yinon Magal, a freshman member of Knesset for the Jewish Home party, resigned last month after at least four different women accused him of sexual harassment or of making objectionable comments.
High-ranking police officer Maj. Gen. Roni Rittman is also accused of two instances of sexual harassment, including kissing a subordinate against her will five years ago. Rittman, who is currently on mandatory leave, heads the Lahav 433 anti-corruption unit, the department that, among other things, was tasked with investigating Magal over the allegations made against him. A series of sex scandals have hit the police in recent years, too, with several senior officers resigning.
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