Gov't picks former min. suspected of sexual harassment coverup for A-G nomination committee

The government approved the appointment of former Justice and Finance Minister and Presidential candidate Meir Sheetrit to AG nomination committee, despite accusations of sexual harassment.

meir sheetrit 298 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
meir sheetrit 298
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])

The government approved the appointment of former justice minister Meir Sheetrit as a member of the committee to locate the next attorney-general, despite allegations that Sheetrit allegedly paid a silence fee to his housekeeper for allegedly sexually harassing her.

No police investigation was conducted, and Sheetrit denied the allegations.

Deputy Prime Minister and Justice Minister Gideon Sa’ar announced at Sunday’s cabinet meeting that according to a 2007 government decision, he intends to ask the nominating committee to examine candidates for the position of attorney-general, whom Sa’ar will select.

Five ministers voted against the appointment of Sheetrit: Labor Party head and Transportation Minister Merav Michaeli, Meretz head and Health Minister Nitzan Horowitz, Diaspora Affairs Minister Nachman Shai, Public Security Minister Omer Bar-Lev (Labor) and Environmental Protection Minister Tamar Zandberg (Meretz).

“Members of a hiring committee for a position as important as A-G need to be people with impeccable records,” Michaeli said. “This is not the case, and therefore the Labor party ministers voted against” Sheetrit’s nomination.

Candidate Meir Sheetrit in the Knesset for presidential election (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)Candidate Meir Sheetrit in the Knesset for presidential election (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Meretz party coordinator Michal Rozin called the nomination an “embarrassing and humiliating incident” for the change government.

“I am proud of my party members who voted against the government decision,” said Labor MK Naama Lazimi. “Setting limits and upholding values is totally the politics we want to see here. Even if not everyone agrees, it is still our job.”

Hagit Pe’er, head of the women’s organization Na’amat, also commented on the nomination. 

“The choice of Sheetrit for the A-G nomination committee is inappropriate – an extremely problematic ethical message that a person linked to payments of sexual harassment-silencing fees can take part in the nomination of one of the most important gatekeepers of Israeli democracy,” Pe'er said. “In addition, the committee does not have proper women’s representation, as it included only one woman. Specifically, when the #MeToo mindset is spreading to more communities, the government’s message is morally problematic. The ministers who voted against the nomination should be supported.”

A report in 2014 on then-Channel 10 accused Sheetrit of entering into an agreement whereby he paid his former housekeeper NIS 270,000 in exchange for her silence with regard to sexual harassment complaints against him.

Sheetrit ran for president in 2014, finishing second to Reuven Rivlin by 10 votes.