MK files lawsuit against Avi Gabbay after sexual harassment accusations

Gabbay will have to prove that Broshi is a sex offender or he will have to pay NIS 300,000.

Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay and MK Eitan Broshi (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union Chairman Avi Gabbay and MK Eitan Broshi
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Zionist Union MK Eitan Broshi filed a libel lawsuit on Wednesday morning against the leader of his party, Avi Gabbay, for calling him a sex offender.
The case makes reference to statements Gabbay made on social media after Channel 10 reported that Broshi had sexually assaulted a woman in an elevator 15 years ago when he was the mayor of the Jezreel Valley Regional Council.
Gabbay wrote on Twitter that Broshi had to “take responsibility” for his “shameful acts” and that he was a “sex offender” who “does not belong on the streets or in the Knesset.” According to Israeli law, Gabbay will have to prove Broshi is a sex offender or he will have to pay the NIS 300,000 demanded by the lawsuit, or at least the NIS 141,757 minimum for lawsuits in which there is “intention to harm.” Unlike Broshi, who has immunity as an MK, Gabbay is not a Knesset member, though he is a millionaire.
In the lawsuit filed by attorney Ilan Bombach, Broshi accused Gabbay of “an ugly lynching on Twitter,” to Gabbay’s 68,200 followers and to those who saw his tweet reported in the media.
Gabbay responded to the lawsuit by saying, “A safe and protected public sphere for women is a target that we will continue fighting for, and scare tactics will have no impact on us.”
Broshi complained Gabbay already decided he was guilty within an hour and a half after the report was broadcast without hearing his side of the story.
Bombach pointed out that Gabbay’s haste was especially problematic, because Gabbay himself was put under house arrest for five days in 2005 for an alleged crime when he was director-general of the Bezeq telephone company and later cleared of charges.
In his tweet, Gabbay said Broshi would be suspended from all Labor Party activity, but Broshi pointed out that the Labor leader has no authority to suspend an MK, a step that could only be taken by the party’s secretary-general or by the MK’s local branch.
“My client has never been indicted, let alone convicted and has not been questioned by police for any crime, a sexual offense or otherwise,” Bombach wrote.
Bombach also wrote about an incident three weeks ago in which Broshi pushed fellow Zionist Union MK Ayelet Nahmias- Verbin, who stood in his way on a narrow path on Kibbutz Be’eri in the Gaza periphery.
He noted his client had apologized for the incident and Nahmias-Verbin had accepted the apology.
Zionist Union MK Shelly Yacimovich told Channel 10 Wednesday night that more women have complained to her that Broshi had sexually harassed them. Her spokeswoman refused to say how many women and what the chances were that they would file complaints with police.
Bombach responded, “Yacimovich and Channel 10 have made themselves into both judges and executioners.”
Some 30 demonstrators came to a small demonstration held outside Broshi’s former office at the United Kibbutz Movement in Tel Aviv. The protesters held signs saying “Broshi go home” and chanted “Broshi quit; the body of a woman is not yours for the taking,” which rhymes in Hebrew.
Naomi Grant contributed to this report.