(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Vice Premier Silvan Shalom announced on Sunday he is leaving political life, after allegations of sexual misconduct.
Shalom announced he is leaving the cabinet and the Knesset after 11 women came forward alleging he had made inappropriate sexual advancements toward them.
His resignation preempted an expected decision by Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein to order the allegations checked.
Weinstein decided in consultations with the state attorney and the police to renew an examination into charges that Shalom sexually harassed women.
The examination into two claims began two years ago when Shalom ran for president and was closed because one women refused to testify, while the other reported an incident that happened 16 years ago, beyond the 10-year statute of limitations.
Two women are expected to formally file criminal complaints against Shalom on Monday, which would result in the case being expanded to a full criminal investigation.
The police responded to Shalom’s resignation by saying that it would not impact their handling of the probe.
“For some 23 years I have served the public with determination and faith as an MK and a minister in various offices out of a feeling I was fulfilling a mission and a desire to advance important social and public goals,” Shalom said in a statement.
The minister said that the claims of sexual misconduct had put him and his family through anguish and therefore he was stepping down despite his insistence that the allegations were false. He thanked his family for its full support.
Judy Shalom Nir-Mozes, Shalom’s wife, wrote on Twitter that her husband’s departure from politics was sad but she had to put their children first.
Shalom is set to be replaced in the Knesset by the next name on the Likud candidates list, attorney Amir Ohana, who will be the first openly gay Likud MK.
Shalom will temporarily be replaced as interior minister by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who already holds four other portfolios in addition to being prime minister – as foreign minister, economy minister, communications minister and regional cooperation minister.
It is possible that Shas chairman Arye Deri will be given the Interior portfolio, even though he served jail time for accepting bribes when he held the post. Several Likud ministers and a deputy minister are also eyeing the position, including Tourism Minister Yariv Levin, Immigrant Absorption Minister Ze’ev Elkin, and Deputy Regional Cooperation Minister Ayoub Kara.
Channel 10 reported that former interior minister Gideon Sa’ar is considering forming a new political party with a former IDF chief of staff and a senior journalist. Sa’ar denied the report.
“I am on a break from political life and their currently is no change in my status,” Sa’ar told The Jerusalem Post. “There have been many speculative reports about me over the past few months. When I have what to say, I will say it.”
Shalom was noticeably absent on Sunday morning from weekly meetings of the cabinet and Likud ministers.
Deputy Foreign Minister Tzipi Hotovely was the first Likud MK to call for Shalom to quit, saying “there is no place in the Knesset for elected officials who harmed and harassed women.”
Na’amat Women’s Zionist Organization president Galia Wolloch praised Shalom for resigning, which she said proved that there are new norms regarding how women are treated and whether public officials who harassed women can keep their jobs.
“The new norm came as a result of women no longer being willing to remain silent and hide,” Wolloch said. “For that, these women are worthy of all praise.”