An Israeli lawmaker who was suspended temporarily from the Labor Party amid allegations of sexual harassment filed a libel lawsuit against party leader Avi Gabbay.
Eitan Broshi filed the £62,000 ($82,000) lawsuit on Wednesday in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court after calling on Gabbay to apologise for calling him a “sex offender.”
Gabbay suspended Broshi on Sunday following accusations that Broshi sexually harassed a woman in an elevator 15 years ago. The incident allegedly took place at the Max Stern Yezreel Valley College when Broshi was mayor of the Emek Jezreel Regional Council, Israel’s Channel 10 reported.
“He didn’t let me leave the elevator, touched my intimate parts, and then asked me why I am not going with the flow,” Channel 10 quoted his accuser as saying.
Gabbay in a tweet called the alleged actions “deplorable” and asked Broshi to accept responsibility and leave the Knesset.
“There is no place for sex offenders either on the streets or in the Knesset,” Gabbay’s tweet said.
Broshi’s lawsuit accuses Gabbay of “an ugly lynching on Twitter.”
Several lawmakers from the Labor Party, which with Hatnua makes up the Zionist Union, have called for Broshi’s resignation. The Knesset is in recess for the next three months.
The accusation came three weeks after Broshi caused controversy by patting the rear end of a female colleague during an official visit to southern Israel. He apologised for the incident. Witnesses said he was attempting to ask fellow lawmaker Ayelet Nahmias-Verbin to move out of his way. Nahmias-Verbin accepted his apology while saying she felt he touched her in an “inappropriate” and “humiliating” manner.
The Association of Rape Crisis Centers told Channel 10 that it received information that there are other accusations involving Broshi.