Israeli Lawmaker Accused of Sex Crimes; Party Leader Bennett: 'He Denies Claims'

Hard-right leader Bennett says he spoke with said party legislator, calls on anyone feeling hurt to file a police complaint.

Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson
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Habayit Hayehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset last month.
Habayit Hayehudi chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett at the Knesset last month. Credit: Olivier Fitoussi
Chaim Levinson
Chaim Levinson

A Knesset member accused of sexual harassment denied allegations against him a day after it was claimed on Facebook that he had harassed women for years.

Habayit Hayehudi, the lawmaker's party, released a statement on Thursday according to which he said he denies the allegations. Party chairman and Education Minister Naftali Bennett called on anyone feeling hurt to file a complaint with the police, the statement added.

Chagit Moriah-Gibor, a member of the Habayit Hayehudi party member, posted to a religious feminist group on Facebook Wednesday that she, together with others, is attempting to gather evidence against an "incumbent Knesset member" who "has assaulted and is assaulting women for years." She called on women who were harassed or who know of harassment to turn to her, and promised complete confidentiality.

"I know of an old case and recently more stories reached me, shocking ones," she wrote in the post that garnered dozens of shares and comments. "The problem: The price that will be paid by those women will be too great and they aren’t willing to talk at all. We (other good people and I) are trying to formulate a set of evidence, even anonymously, to expose that person."

"This is a classic case of everyone knowing but no one being able to do anything," Moriah-Gibor said. "And meanwhile women continue to be harmed."

People close the accused lawmaker said in response "we are used to stories being circulated every few years about the Knesset member and in the end there turns out to be nothing behind them. We have no interest in rewarding the slanderers and inflating the story, and therefore we have nothing further to say."

On Thursday, Moriah-Gibor told Army Radio that the stories of five women had reached her, and that she herself has heard the testimony of three women, but that none of them had turned to the police.

"The first story was two years ago," she said. "The story itself took place a few years earlier, and when I tried to reach more women I ran into a wall of silence... I wasn’t personally hurt by this MK. I know him personally, I'm a member of his party. One [woman] turned to me and I checked what could be done, and understood that both my and others' hands were tied at the moment.

"More stories, shocking in my opinion, recently reached me, and I understood that this is carrying on," she said.

Habayit Hayehudi's Thursday statement said that "when the issue reached him, party chairman Naftali Bennett spoke with the said MK, who completely denied this. Minister Bennett calls on anyone who feels hurt, always, and on any person in any position, to go and complain to the authorities."

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