Bennett Strips Magal of Habayit Hayehudi Faction Chairmanship

Magal will no longer serve as chair after accusations of sexual assault by former co-workers at news site Walla. However, Magal will remain member of Committee on the Status of Women.

Naftali Bennet speaks with Yinon Magal at the Knesset.
Tali Mayer

After sexual assault accusations against MK Yinon Magal surfaced Tuesday, the Habayit Hayehudi member announced Wednesday morning that he will no longer serve as chair of the Knesset Habayit Hayehudi faction. However, Magal will remain a member of the Committee on the Status of Women. His announcement follows claims by former female colleagues at the Walla news site that he sexually harassed them while serving as editor-in-chief.

Senior members of the Habayit Hayehudi party said Naftali Bennett was very tough on Magal in their talk on Tuesday night. Bennett decided to dismiss Magal from his post as chair of the faction as a first step in response to the affair. "If things end up with a police investigation, further steps will be considered," the party members said.

According to Magal, "I met last night with the head of the party Naftali Bennett, and I told him what happened. I made mistakes in the past with inappropriate behavior, and obviously isn't befitting a public figure as I am today. I apologize from the bottom of my heart to whoever was hurt. I am ready to fix my conduct and also to rehabilitate things on the personal and family level."

The police set up a special team Tuesday to investigate sexual harassment charges against Magal. According to senior police officials, the two women journalists who worked with him at Walla, who said he harassed them at a farewell party for him, will be called on to testify.

The police will summon the women, Raheli Rottner and Or Shukrun, co-workers at the Walla news site where Magal was editor-in-chief before becoming an MK, after receiving authorization from Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Magal allegedly harassed other women at the party and tried to kiss some of them against their will. 

Rottner leveled her accusations against Magal on her Facebook page, to which Magal responded with an apology on his Facebook page. Shukrun then came forward with similar claims against Magal.

Magal has declined requests from Haaretz for a comment on the other women’s accusations.

In response to Magal’s apology, Shukrun accused Magal on her Facebook page of touching her behind on more than one occasion over her objections, and said his apology was not accepted.