Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein decided to close the sex-crimes investigation into a senior minister and presidential hopeful Silvan Shalom on Wednesday, the Justice Ministry said, citing the country's 10-year statute of limitations as the main reason.
Earlier this year, a woman alleged that she felt coerced to perform a sex act on Shalom when she was his secretary 15 years ago.
Weinstein said that the State Prosecutor's recommendation - that matches that of the Israel Police - was that "under these circumstances, following the efforts of inquiry made and the lack of practical ability to advance it, the inquiry has been exhausted."
The State Prosecutor's recommendation also noted that even if there was sufficient evidence that a felony has been committed, Shalom could not be prosecuted for it because of the statute of limitation on the alleged incident.
"At the end of the day, some of the information police received was denied, some does not enable tracking down the women it pretains to or to contact them, and some leads to women who refuse to give testimony to the police," Weinstein's statement said.
Shalom was questioned, denied the allegations and claimed that he does not know the complainant.
Shalom held a number of top posts over the past 20 years. He now serves as water and energy minister and is expected to contend for the presidency as Shimon Peres retires this summer.
Shalom's spokesman declined to comment, but sources close to the minister said this was an attempt at a political hit, timed to explode in the midst of the race for presidency.
The sources said that now, following Weinstein's decision, Shalom was likely to return to the race. The vote at the Knesset to elect Peres's successor will take place before June 27.
Eli Senyor, Aviel Magnezi and Attila Somfalvi contributed to this report.