Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on Wednesday officially closed the sex crimes investigation against Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom.
A Justice Ministry statement said that the case was closed on two primary grounds.
First, the initial probe was started due to allegations of sex crimes by Shalom against an employee from around 15 years ago – meaning no indictment could be filed because too much time has passed.
Second, although the police were told of several other alleged incidents of sex crimes by Shalom in more recent years, also against employees, each incident had a roadblock that prevented prosecution.
In some cases the women informally confirmed the incident but refused to formally testify to police and in other cases the women denied the incident or could not be located.
The statement implied that the evidence in regards to the 15-year-old case had been significant.
The statement also implied that Weinstein had widened the investigation because of the number of incidents, but eventually he and the state concurred with police that there was no legal path forward against Shalom.
Shalom was thought to be a leading candidate for the presidency before the scandal broke out.
He never officially declared his candidacy, but met with MKs about getting the requisite 10 signatures to run.
Sources close to Shalom said he is not likely to run for president even though the allegations were dropped, as they reduced his chances of winning.
However, if Shalom sees an indication that he could win, such as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu asking him to run, he would throw his hat into the race, they said.
Shalom’s stepson, Nimrod Nir, said that if Shalom ran, it would be “a winning response to all of those who tried to turn the most honest man, who did everything for the State of Israel, into the thing he is furthest from.”
Shalom was glaringly absent from Wednesday night’s Likud convention, while the party’s only candidate for president, MK Reuven “Rubi” Rivlin, was present. Many central committee members were spotted with stickers that read “Rubi is my candidate.”
Shalom’s wife, Judy Nir Mozes Shalom, took to Facebook to thank the public for its support.
“I want to hug all my friends who gave me the strength to get through this awful time,” she wrote. “I want to cry… My husband is a good, fair man and the most honest I’ve ever met.”
She had a less positive message on Twitter, however, saying “only in Israel is someone guilty until proven innocent.”
On March 25 Shalom was questioned under caution for two hours at the Lod headquarters of the LAHAV 433 unit of the Israel Police as part of a probe into a sexual harassment allegation from 1998.
The questioning came after Weinstein, State Attorney Shai Nitzan and other top police and ministry officials launched a preliminary probe to check the credibility of recent allegations of sexual offenses committed by Shalom against a woman years ago. The woman worked for Shalom’s office 15 years ago while he was science and technology minister.
The woman told Army Radio in late March that Shalom called her into his hotel in Jerusalem and was wearing only a towel and sitting on his bed. She said that he told her “you are going to change my life.”
The maximum statute of limitations for prosecuting sexual offenses is 10 years. Therefore, it had been unclear from the start whether the complaint could lead to any official criminal investigation or indictment against Shalom if other complainants could not be found with more recent allegations.
On April 29, a senior member of the police investigations branch said that they expect to finish the investigation of Shalom in the coming days, but would not say whether or not police planned to recommend closing the case or pressing charges against Shalom.
As recently as April 30, Weinstein had ordered a continuance of the investigation despite reported police recommendations to close the case.
Pressed on April 30 as to the details regarding Weinstein’s overruling the police, the Justice Ministry confirmed that the investigation was continuing, but notably did not deny that the decision was against the police’s recommendations.
The ministry often refuses to comment on such issues until it sends out an official statement.
Earlier on April 30, the head of the Police Investigations and Intelligence branch Meni Yitzhaki met with Nitzan at the Attorney- General’s Office, where officers presented their case against Shalom.
Police said that Justice Ministry officials are still going over the findings and had yet to decide how to proceed with the case.
Ben Hartman contributed to this report.