Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Knesset members will be permitted to file sexual harassment complaints with Limor Peretz, the parliament’s gender equality supervisor, according to a directive issued Sunday by Knesset Speaker Yuli Edelstein to Knesset director-general Ronen Plot.
The head of the Knesset Committee for the Status of Women, Aida Touma-Sliman (Joint List) had complained to Edelstein that while lower-level staffers in the parliament had a procedure in place to file sexual harassment complaints, there was no such thing for MKs. The directive will facilitate complaints by parliamentary aides and faction staff as well as MKs.
The MKs will also take part in efforts by Peretz to fight the phenomenon of sexual harassment, according to the decision, which was announced in honor of International Women’s Day, which is marked annually on March 8. Peretz will brief the MKs on procedures for sexual harassment complaints and will investigate any complaints confidentially.
“It is important to raise awareness of the need to prevent sexual harassment and to create a healthy work environment in the Knesset,” Edelstein said.
Two MKs have quit due to sexual harassment charges since the current Knesset was elected a year ago: Silvan Shalom (Likud) and Yinon Magal (Bayit Yehudi). Complaints against the MKs were vetted by the police and did not lead to a formal investigation.
Touma-Sliman said she was surprised there was no procedure in place for MKs to file such complaints and she was glad that Edelstein agreed to fix the problem.
“It is unacceptable that the situation until now was improper in the Knesset, where the laws are legislated,” Touma-Sliman said. “It is known that there is no workplace without sexual harassment of women. Having such a procedure in place could help make the Knesset a safer atmosphere, clean of sexual harassment.”