Sa’ar may resign over sex scandal

Letter alleging affair with employee, relations with minor, is attempt by rivals to prevent Saar from getting a senior portfolio, allies say.

Gideon Sa'ar at the President's residence 370 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Gideon Sa'ar at the President's residence 370
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar knows his political career is in jeopardy following allegations that he had inappropriate relations with a worker in his office and with a minor, sources close to the minister said on Tuesday.
Another close friend of Sa’ar said the 46-year-old minister was considering resigning, especially because of allegations he had relations with an intoxicated minor in The Guild, a nightclub where the minister used to DJ.
“He knows he’s over,” yet another close friend of Sa’ar said on Tuesday.
Meanwhile, sources in the Education Ministry say a letter complaining about Sa’ar’s sexual misconduct is a forgery by his political rivals.
“The timing of the letter isn’t coincidental,” a Sa’ar ally said, calling the letter an “ugly” attempt by other Likud ministers to prevent him from getting a senior portfolio in the next government.
A Likud source said that as long as there was no victim making allegations about Sa’ar – meaning that the letter was fake – the police would have to drop the investigation and his political career would not be harmed.
On Monday, the Justice Ministry announced that Attorney- General Yehuda Weinstein had instructed police to begin a preliminary investigation of a letter sent to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Likud activists signed by “M.C.,” an Education Ministry employee.
The letter claims that M.C. had a romantic relationship with Sa’ar, during which the minister took advantage of his position.
A person with the initials M.C., who still works with Sa’ar, says she did not write the letter, but has not answered inquiries as to why she did not complain to the police about the alleged forgery.
Current Likud MKs have avoided commenting on the issue until the circumstances surrounding the allegations become clearer. However, former MK Carmel Shama-Hacohen expressed certainty that the letter was part of “a very systematic campaign that includes YouTube clips and articles pulled out of the archive by this or that reporter who bad-mouthed him.
“The police will easily find those responsible for the campaign. Usually, ‘assassination’ attempts come from within the family, because of the strong competition in the Likud,” Shama-Hacohen told Army Radio.
MK Faina Kirschenbaum (Likud Beytenu) told Army Radio that Sa’ar was a great minister, and expressed hope that the allegations would not harm his future.
“It will be very unfortunate if in the end this turns out to be a political plot,” she said.
Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On also said that while she was unsure whether the letter was forged or not, as someone who had helped women speak out against sexual harassment, she generally judged the veracity of a claim by one condition – whether the victim herself spoke out or not.
The Justice Ministry denied that Weinstein had been consulted about whether Sa’ar could be appointed as minister while the allegations still hung over him.
During an ongoing investigation, it would be difficult for Netanyahu to continue considering Sa’ar, No. 3 on the Likud Beytenu candidates list, as a candidate for justice minister.
The prime minister might prefer to make him a minister without portfolio, following a precedent set for Tzachi Hanegbi during a criminal investigation against him in 2004.
Not having to appoint Sa’ar to a ministry could be convenient for Netanyahu, who will have to reduce the number of ministers to close to 18 if Yesh Atid is in the coalition, as that has been one of that party’s demands in negotiations.
Likud and Yisrael Beytenu have 19 ministers in the outgoing government, four of whom are not in the new Knesset, and the race for portfolios in the new coalition is very tight.