(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
A new police investigation into charges that Vice Premier Silvan Shalom sexually harassed female aides is unlikely to be opened unless a new woman comes forward who is willing to testify against him that he recently committed such acts, legal authorities said Wednesday.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein is expected to instruct police to check reports of harassment that were printed and broadcast in media outlets on Wednesday, but sources close to him stressed that an actual police probe was a very different and much more serious procedure.
Legal authorities said there has been no new information that justifies reopening a past case against Shalom and restarting an investigation.
Shalom’s office said the reports merely recycled past charges that derailed his 2014 race for president and that this was an organized campaign against him. After those allegations were checked by police, Weinstein accepted a recommendation by the state prosecution to drop the investigation.
Legal authorities said Weinstein had all the information currently available about women who made allegations against Shalom when he decided to close the file. One woman agreed to testify against Shalom, but the incident happened too long ago to be legally valid, while women with more recent claims refused to testify.
Channel 2 noted four such women with charges against Shalom. One of them told Haaretz that Shalom repeatedly harassed her, touching intimate parts of her body and attempting to insert his hands into her underwear. She refused to file a formal complaint against him.
Nevertheless, three Meretz MKs wrote a letter to Weinstein Wednesday asking him to instruct the police to investigate the incident.
“An elected official cannot remain silent or issue a simple denial to the press,” MKs Zehava Gal-On, Tamar Zandberg, and Michal Rozin wrote. “He has an ethical obligation to give his account and respond to the charges to the police.”
The MKs said an investigation was necessary even without a complaint by the woman, especially because there appeared to be more than one woman who has complained about him in the past. They noted that an investigation was opened into the charges that former MK Yinon Magal harassed women even though they declined to testify.
“The authorities must intervene, because there have been too many times when victims have been exposed and publicly humiliated,” the MKs wrote.
But Likud MK Yoav Kisch defended Shalom, saying that not every complaint was true and it was wrong to decide Shalom’s fate in the media.