Settler Leader Averts Ouster for Sexual Harassment Complaint

A mostly male panel of the Gush Etzion Council decides to leave Davidi Perl in office as chairman, citing a failure of the woman who complained against him to go to police or answer their questions.

Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger
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Davidi Perl, left, meeting with Meretz leader Zehava Galon, August 2015.
Davidi Perl, left, meeting with Meretz leader Zehava Galon, August 2015. Credit: Emil Salman
Yotam Berger
Yotam Berger

A mostly male committee of the Gush Etzion Regional Council has decided against ousting chairman, Davidi Perl, after reports he had sexually harassed a woman and paid her hush money, an internal report released yesterday showed.

The allegations against Perl were made public last month on Channel 10 news.

The televised report said that Perl had agreed to pay the woman hundreds of thousands of shekels in hush money and promised not to run for reelection as head of the regional council.

Perl wrote the council a letter denying the allegations.

The woman who had complained provided the council with a statement, but refused to appear and didn’t file a complaint with police.

There was only one woman on the council committee that reviewed the case. The panel cited the complainant’s refusal to provide details as a reason for their decision not to oust Perl.

The committee also said it had asked the attorney general for an opinion, which it has not yet received.

Some Gush Etzion residents objected to the decision.

Eliaz Cohen, a member of Kibbutz Kfar Etzion, a poet and local activist, told Haaretz: “Davidi and his attorney could not have written anything better than this.”

Cohen said the committee “really wanted to do serious work but in the end they could not pry out a statement of public leadership as would be expected, at least from my point of view and the point of view of others who are no longer willing to remain silent.”

Cohen called on Gush Etzion members of the Takana Forum, a rabbinic organization that deals with sex crimes in the religious-Zionist community, to speak out. But Takanat has declined to comment.

"What kind of message does that convey?” Cohen said.

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