'Anyone With a Brain Won’t Back Shalom for President Now’ Says Former Supporter of Minister

The sexual misconduct case against him has been closed, but the impact of it has damaged Silvan Shalom’s prospects for presidency.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Silvan Shalom speaking to the press last month in Jerusalem.
Silvan Shalom speaking to the press last month in Jerusalem.Credit: Marc Israel Sellem
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

A Knesset member who is close to Energy and Water Resources Minister Silvan Shalom has told Haaretz that he does not plan to support Shalom’s presidential bid despite the attorney general’s decision to close the sexual misconduct probe against the senior Likud figure. Shalom was suspected of sexual harassment of at least one former employee.

“I had planned to vote for Silvan, but he won’t get my vote now. It’s not just me, but anyone with a brain,” said the MK, who publicly supported Shalom during the recent investigation.

“According to reports, one woman confirmed to investigators that she had been assaulted by him but refused to file a complaint. This was not an offense to which the statute of limitations applies. As long as this incident cannot be investigated, it could also come back in the future,” said the MK, who was speaking on condition of anonymity. “Silvan is smart enough to know not to run in such a situation. I don’t believe Silvan will run and do not believe that [Prime Minister Benjamin] Netanyahu will support him,” the MK added.

His remarks reflect a broader mood in the Knesset and are an indication of the protests that can be expected if Shalom does toss his hat into the presidential ring. The executive director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, Orit Sulitzeanu, said yesterday that Israeli women’s organizations will oppose Shalom’s candidacy, if he decides to run, but would avoid attacking him if he stays out of the race.

A leading Likud figure, speaking on condition of anonymity, defended Shalom, saying, “There’s no reason Silvan can’t run. The attorney general didn’t find anything against him. Silvan himself made it clear there’s nothing behind the reports. You can’t ruin someone’s career only on account of secret claims that cannot be challenged. He would be an excellent president,” the source said.

On Thursday Shalom met with Netanyahu in a bid to gauge his chances of obtaining the prime minister’s official support. Shalom also met with representatives from other coalition parties. He is expected to meet Netanyahu again this week, and only then to make a final decision about whether to run.

Associates of Netanyahu have made it clear over the past few weeks that the prime minister does not want Shalom to be president, while stressing that the most important goal was keeping former Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin out of the president’s residence.

The president of Israel is elected by a secret ballot of Knesset members and serves a seven-year term. President Shimon Peres’ term ends in July.

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