Interior Minister Resigns Amid Allegations of Sexual Assault

Silvan Shalom announces stepping down from public office; six women accused minister of sexual misconduct, following a Haaretz investigative report.

Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom.
Tomer Appelbaum

Israeli Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Silvan Shalom announced his resignation from public office on Sunday evening, following several allegations of sexual assault.

The allegations first came to light in a Haaretz report last week. Following the report, which revealed the allegation of a former employee at Shalom's office against him, several other women also alleged that the minister sexually assaulted them.

Shalom said in a statement: "For some 23 years I have been dedicatedly and faithfully serving the public as a MK and minister in different ministries, out of a sense of purpose and a drive to promote very important social and public goals. I had enough of the torments that befell me and my family, my wife, kids, and my elderly mother. My family completely supports me, but there is no reason for the price they are forced to pay. Under these circumstances, I decided to resign my position as a minister and a member of parliament."

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's office held a consultation Sunday evening with State Attorney Shai Nitzan and the Israel Police Investigations and Intelligence Division Major General Meni Yitzhaki. Yitzhaki discussed how the police may investigate the allegations. At the end of the meeting, Weinstein decided based on Nitzan's recommendation, to order the police to investigate the matter. The Tel Aviv District Attorney's Office will accompany the investigation.  

MK Shelly Yacimovich (Zionist Union) responded to the news: "It's good that Silvan didn't wait and resigned. On a personal level he did the right thing."

"It is good that Silvan Shalom resigned from political life. It is a victory for public norms required of Israeli public officials," MK Zehava Galon, MK Michal Rozin and MK Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said in a statement, adding that "Silvan Shalom's resignation shouldn't come instead of the attorney general's duty to instruct the police to call the outgoing minister in for investigation."

The current wave of reports was started by the report that appeared in Haaretz Wednesday on a series of alleged incidents that went on for more than a year. These reports joined those of the first woman who complained of alleged acts by Shalom -  the woman said that more than a decade ago, Shalom asked her to perform oral sex, abusing his authority over her. However, that case cannot be prosecuted because of the statute of limitations.

Channel 10 News broadcasted the testimony of one of Shalom's former bodyguards Sunday evening. He told of two incidents that he witnessed Shalom having intimate relations with women in toilet stalls. In one of the two cases he recognized one of the women as an employee in the minister's office. The man told Channel 10 that once the reports on Shalom came out he contacted the police and told the police what he knew. He said that the police showed him a number of photos, which were not of the women he had seen with Shalom.