Israeli Minister Silvan Shalom Questioned Over Alleged Sexual Offenses

Energy and Water Minister questioned under caution on allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of authority against a woman who worked for him 15 years ago.

Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich
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Silvan Shalom.
Silvan Shalom. Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Yaniv Kubovich
Yaniv Kubovich

Energy and Water Minister Silvan Shalom was investigated Tuesday morning under caution on allegations of sexual harassment and abuse of authority against a woman who worked for him 15 years ago.

Shalom gave his version of the events to investigators over two hours on Tuesday, and was then released.

Israel Police and Israel's attorney general opened the investigation on Sunday following complaints by the woman, who worked for him when he served as Minister of Science.

The police tried all day to reach another woman whose name came up as another employee who may have been victimized by the minister. At this point the police have not been able to reach additional plaintiffs. The police said they do not dismiss the accusations made by the woman, claiming that it is not possible to unambiguously disregard it.

The woman making the complaint is not regarded as someone sent by political agents wishing to harm Minister Shalom, according to the police, but they realize that nothing can be done about her complaint. A senior police source said that by the end of the week their investigation will be terminated.

According to the law, the Attorney General holds the authority to open a criminal investigation against a minister in office, if a complaint has been filed against him.

The complainant claims Shalom asked her to bring him some work documents at the Jerusalem hotel where he was spending the night. When the minister opened the door to his room, he was dressed only in a robe. While they were sitting together in the room, the complainant alleged, the minister began making sexual suggestions.

According to the complainant, she went to the bathroom to escape the uncomfortable situation in the room. When she re-entered the room, the minister was lying naked on the bed. She made various excuses to avoid his request that she have sex with him, but acceded out of fear to his request that she perform oral sex on him. After that, she left the room.

Shalom's bureau said in response that "Silvan is not familiar with such a complaint or story." The minister's associates claim that the delayed complaint was meant to purposely sabotage his expected candidacy for Israel's presidency.

Attorney Orna Sasson, who is representing the complainant had contacted her several dais after the incident, but explained that "15 years ago, the way women who complained of sexual offences were treated was very different. In those days it was something very unusual. Women rarely complained and, when they did, they went through a very difficult process. I explained to her all the difficulties that she would encounter."

Army Radio sent the complainant for two polygraph tests. The first found that she was being truthful about the events she described, while the results of the second, which took place on Sunday, were mixed.

The findings of the polygraph tests have been transferred to the state attorney and the attorney general.

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