MK Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi) announced Monday he will resign from the Knesset in light of sexual harassment allegations raised against him.
Magal told Bayit Yehudi chairman Naftali Bennett that he is certain there is no criminal aspect to his behavior, but he understands that people were hurt by his past actions.
Magal has not yet tendered his resignation to the Knesset for technical reasons, and will do so in the coming days, his spokesman said. When he does, former deputy education minister Avi Wortzman is next in line to take his place.
Bennett, who is currently in the US, said the resignation was the right thing to do.
“I hope the process he is in will end as quickly as possible, so he can be dedicated to his family and continue on his way,” Bennett stated.
Later, Bennett added: “Today is a sad day for me and for all of us, but I am determined to follow my vision of a strong, Jewish, Zionist movement of religious and secular people. The country needs it. We will raise our heads and continue.”
Magal announced his resignation the morning after a fourth woman came forward, alleging that he sexually assaulted her by forcibly kissing her, according to Channel 2 News.
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MK Merav Michaeli (Zionist Union) said Magal did the right thing, and that she has respect for the women who “had the courage to break their silence and bring us one step closer to a world without sexual assault.”
Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List), chairwoman of the Knesset Committee for the Advancement of the Status of Women, said: “There is no place in the legislature for someone who objectifies women and disrespects them.
“I hope this step will be an example to others who have yet to understand that this matter is a red line that shows a lack of morals, not only toward women, but toward all people,” she added.
In the coalition, MK Merav Ben-Ari (Kulanu) said, “Magal’s decision to resign is a worthy one and he is taking responsibility in a way that we don’t see today, in our country.”
Last week, Magal stepped down from his position as Bayit Yehudi faction chairman, under pressure from party leaders after allegations surfaced on social media that he had sexually harassed subordinates before entering politics.
The police said they had begun examining the complaints made against Magal under the supervision of the head of the Investigations and Intelligence Branch, Asst.-Ch. Meni Yitzhaki.
Magal has been embroiled in controversy since Racheli Rottner, a writer for Walla News, where he was editor-in-chief until last year, wrote a Facebook post about his unwanted sexual overtures.
Rottner said that, when she worked for Magal, he would tell her to dress sexier for her humorous video segments, “like a librarian from a porno.”
In addition, at Magal’s goodbye party, after he announced that he was leaving journalism for politics, Rottner wrote that he said he felt sexual tension when they worked together and that he said to her: “‘Now, I can tell you this, because I’m not your boss anymore, but whenever we worked together I was horny for you...I would talk to other people about your tits and ass and how horny they make me.’” “And after that, he got up to speak to all the people invited about Bayit Yehudi and values and family,” Rottner wrote.
On Monday, Rottner responded on Facebook to Magal’s resignation with a grimacing emoticon.
Later in the day, she wrote a Facebook post directed to Bennett, who she said has been ignoring her, as has his staff.
Rottner asked Bennett to come out against those who have been harassing her on social media in response to her complaint against Magal.
“In recent days, I have been receiving rape threats, curses, smears, total lies are being spread out me, people are saying to my husband that I have been sleeping with the whole city behind his back (Spoiler: I’m not),” Rottner wrote. “I am turning to you as the leader of Bayit Yehudi and as education minister, and asking you to take responsibility for your party’s inflammatory supporters. Talk to them, educate them, hold them back, lead them.”
Rottner said Bennett is responsible for teaching values of justice and that women should be able to feel safe when they complain about sexual harassment or assault, and not fear that they will be threatened.
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