Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is looking into a woman's complaint that Minister Silvan Shalom harassed her in a sexual manner when she worked for him as a secretary about 15 years ago, according to Voice of Israel public radio, IDF Radio and News1. Shalom was a government minister at the time of the alleged harassment.
The allegations surface shortly after Minister Shalom made it known that he intends to run for the post of President of Israel.
The statute of limitations would make it impossible to prosecute Shalom for the offense, if it indeed occurred. However, the Attorney General decided to instruct his staff to conduct a thorough inquiry nonetheless, “because of the lessons learned” from the Katzav scandal. Weinstein said that the inquiry would be short and thorough.
Moshe Katzav, who is in jail for rape, was President of Israel when an investigation of alleged sexual offenses was opened against him.
Shalom told a reporter in response: “I have no idea what this is about. I am not familiar with the case, nor with the woman. This is an attempt at political assassination.”
According to Hadas Shtaif, IDF Radio's reporter on criminal matters, the alleged harassment took place in a Jerusalem hotel room Shalom was staying in.
Shtaif is a member of the relatively new “Female Reporters' Cell,” which unites female reporters and specializes in revealing allegations of sexual offenses by men in the government or the press. The cell has been coming under increasingly loud criticism for allegedly conducting “show trials” and “public lynchings” of suspects, while circumventing proper legal procedure.
The Female Reporters' Cell recently conducted an aggressive campaign against a former senior newsman at Channel 2 and Channel 10, Emanuel Rosen, regarding alleged sexual offenses. Police eventually closed the investigation against Rosen without filing charges – but members of the Female Reporters' Cell had already publicly pronounced him to be “a rapist.”
The cell was established by a prominent newswoman from the extreme left with extensive ties to the New Israel Fund.
According to Guy Peleg, Legal Affairs Reporter for Channel 2, police appointed two officers with the rank of major general to look into the charges against Rosen, although the charges were not extremely serious ones. Peleg told Channel 2's Nissim Mishal that when he asked top police commanders why such senior officers had been appointed, he was told, "We had no choice, they were trying to take over our investigation, we had to appoint major generals so that we could maintain control of the investigation." Peleg would not reveal who the people trying to "take over" the investigation were.
Minister Shalom is reportedly Israel's wealthiest politician, with a net worth of about 150 million shekels. The wealth is mostly due to his marriage to Judy Nir-Moses Shalom, who holds 12% of Yediot Aharonot.
The term "sexual harassment" is used very liberally in Israel and can refer to anything from improper words, or even a persistent improper gaze, to indecent acts.