Colette Avital, former Labor Knesset member and former Israel Consul General in New York, claimed late President Shimon Peres sexually assaulted her twice in the 1980s, including once when he was Prime Minister .
In an interview with the Haaretz newspaper published on Thursday, Avital said she was summoned to Peres’ office, while he was prime minister in 1984. The couple discussed potential jobs she could hold in his office. administration after his return as a diplomat stationed in Paris.
As she got up to leave, Avital told Haaretz: “He suddenly pushed me against the door and tried to kiss me.” Avital said she pushed him away and left the room, “and my legs were shaking when I left, it pushed me away.”
The former MP, who worked closely with Peres for many years afterward, however said that for two years after the incident she avoided seeing him.
Avital also alleged that Peres sexually assaulted her several years earlier during her visit to Paris.
According to Avital, she was invited to have dinner with Peres at the hotel where he was staying. Upon her arrival, however, she was told that they would meet in her room for “security reasons”.
Avital said that upon entering the hotel room, Peres was waiting “in pajamas” and pushed her to the bed, but she resisted and left.
“It took a few seconds,” she said.
Avital said he spoke to then Labor spokesman Yossi Beilin, who was in the adjoining room.
“The next time Peres arrives in Paris, I won’t be alone with him. You will be with me, ”she told Beilin.
Avital also said that Beilin was not shocked when she told him.
“He responded with a straight face. He understood, ”she said.
There was no immediate response from Beilin, who later served as cabinet secretary under Peres and Minister of Justice.
The article also had no response from the family or the Peres Foundation to the allegations.
When asked why she was ready to work with Peres when he became Prime Minister, Avital replied: “I never imagined he would try again. During that time, I admired him a lot, in terms of thoughtfulness, talent and creativity. To me, he was the model of an open and thoughtful Israeli statesman. “
She also noted that she had worked closely with Peres before he became Prime Minister “and that he did not try after his time in Paris. I didn’t think it would come back. “
Avital said she hadn’t told anyone about it “because they would have laughed at me…. these were the standards.
In the interview, Avital also recalled other alleged incidents of sexual harassment by her superiors while working at the Foreign Office and denied long-standing rumors that she and Peres had a relationship. in love.
“What bothered me the most is that, God forbid, that they think that I am obligated to him, that he is my boss and that because of him I evolve in life, ”she said.
Peres, who later served as President of Israel, died in 2016 at the age of 93.
During a career spanning seven decades, the oldest statesman in Israeli politics and one of the country’s most admired symbols has held virtually every high-level political post, including two terms in as Prime Minister and extended terms as Minister of Foreign Affairs, Defense and Finance. He won the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994 for his work in reaching an interim peace agreement with the Palestinians.
Long a divisive figure in politics, Peres eventually became one of Israel’s most popular public figures in his later years.