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Top Israeli official resigns following accusations of sexual assault

Israel's deputy prime minister, Silvan Shalom, has stepped down and says he's quitting politics for good. His decision comes as several women accused him of sexual molestation.

Shalom said on Sunday he was stepping down from his dual position as Israel's Interior Minister and Deputy Prime Minister after several women went public with accusations that he had sexually molested them.

Israel's attorney general is currently investigating the claims, which have come from at least seven different women. The left-leaning daily Haaretz reported last week that several of the politician's female staff members had accused him of behaving inappropriately and at least one had claimed that Shalom had asked her to perform oral sex on him.

Shalom issued a statement on Sunday saying that he was resigning. The scandal has rocked the country, as the 57-year-old is one of Israel's most famous politicians. His wife, the journalist Judy Nir-Moses, is also well-known.

"My family stands behind me, but it is no longer worth the cost," he said in his statement, according to German news agency DPA.

Shalom, who's a member of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanayahu's Likud party, isn't the first Israeli official to be accused of sexual misconduct recently. Former Israeli President Moshe Katzav is currently serving jail time for rape.

blc/rc (dpa, AFP, AP)

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