Police Probe Sexual Harassment Allegations Against MK Magal

Habayit Hayehudi lawmaker ousted as faction chair over accusations by former colleagues.

David Bachar

The Israel Police on Wednesday began an inquiry into the testimonies of women claiming they were sexually harassed by Knesset Member Yinon Magal. The police released a statement saying the National Fraud Investigations Unit has launched the inquiry.  

After sexual harassment accusations against Magal surfaced, the Habayit Hayehudi MK announced Wednesday morning that he will no longer serve as head of the party's Knesset faction. However, Magal will not resign his Knesset seat and will remain a member of the Committee on the Status of Women.

A number of former female colleagues at the Walla news site publically claimed on Tuesday that he sexually harassed them while serving as editor-in-chief, and after leaving in order to run for the Knesset.

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.

MK Shuli Moalem will replace Magal as party whip.

Habayit Hayehudi MKs made efforts to calm down voters incensed by the revelations of Magal's improprieties, condemning his actions but praising his work as an MK.

According to a source within the party, "Bennett did not tell the [Habayit Hayehudi] MKs how to respond to the affair. He is not interfering in it. The MKs wanted to say something and agreed amongst themselves on general lines for the statements. There is no one who thinks that what Yinon did is not serious, but we think the removal of him as faction chairman is a severe enough punishment."