Netanyahu Says Minister Shalom Was Right to Resign After Sexual Harassment Claims

Incoming Likud MK Amir Ohana praised by prime minister during weekly faction meeting, as Silvan Shalom prepares to leave office.

Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting, December 21, 2015.
Olivier Fitoussi

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu praised Silvan Shalom Monday for making "the right decision" by quitting political life and his post as interior minister amid claims of sexual harassment by over a dozen different women.

Speaking at the Likud faction weekly meeting, Netanyahu said: "Silvan's announcement that he is leaving public life happened under unfortunate circumstances, but I think he made the right decision." Netanyahu thanked Shalom for decades of public service, but failed to make any direct reference to the allegations of sexual harassment against the Likud minister.

Shalom resigned from public office on Sunday evening after more than 10 women came forth to voice allegations of sexual misconduct on Shalom's part, with some testimonies reaching back over a decade. The claims 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.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein's office held a consultation Sunday evening with State Prosecutor 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. 

Netanyahu also welcomed and praised the Amir Ohana, Likud's LGBT caucus leader, set to become the party's first openly gay representative after replacing Shalom as an MK. 

"I'm sure that he will contribute both to the movement and to the country," said Netanyahu.

The prime minister also said at the opening of the meeting that the Likud Central Committee will select a new leader next Friday, and that a vote will also take place on his proposal to expedite the primaries for leadership of the Likud. 

"This will signal stability and show stability in the coalition," said Netanyahu. "Our unification is important to repel international pressures. We must avoid divisiveness for the food of the Likud's future."