Israeli Interior Minister Silvan Shalom resigns over sex assault claims


With at least 13 women alleging he sexually assaulted them and former bodyguards claiming he had been pursuing improper relations with female subordinates, Interior Minister Silvan Shalom was left with little choice on Sunday night but to announce his resignation from public life.

A Knesset member since 1992, he has also served as foreign, treasury and energy minister, ran twice (unsuccessfully) for Likud Party leadership and a year and a half ago was briefly considered a candidate for the presidency, until the first allegations of sexual attacks began to emerge.

His survival in politics until this week can be attributed in no small part to the reluctance of women to lodge complaints against one of the best-connected men in Israel, including through his wife, Judy Shalom-Nir-Moses, to the Moses family, which owns Israel’s most influential newspaper, Yediot Ahronoth.

Mr Shalom’s long run in power finally ran out of steam last week as a new serious of allegations, mainly involving young women who were employed in the ministries he headed, surfaced.

Israel’s second-most powerful couple toughed it out for a few days until the news that the Attorney-General was opening a preliminary investigation put an end to the saga.

At this point it is not clear whether a full-blown police investigation will go ahead, as most of the women involved are still refusing to go to the police and make formal complaints.

As far as Mr Shalom’s career is concerned, it is immaterial. For Israeli politics, the more intriguing question now is whether his place at the interior ministry will now be filled by a convicted felon, Arye Deri.

If the Shas Party leader is appointed, it will be an unbelievable comeback, nearly 23 years after he was forced to leave that post in the wake of an indictment for bribe-taking for which he received a three-year prison sentence.

Taking Mr Shalom’s place in the Knesset will be Likud’s first openly gay MK, Amir Ohana.

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