Three weeks after announcing he will vie for a spot on Labor Party's Knesset roster, Brigadier-General (Ret.) Uri Sagi announced he was abandoning the bid.
Sagi informed Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich of his decision on Wednesday afternoon.
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An official Labor statement cited that Sagi, 69, was quitting the race "over health and personal family reasons," and a statement by Yachimovich added that the former Military Intelligence chief "Had contributed greatly to the country and I respect his decision"; but according to Labor insiders, there is more to the story.
A party source said that the real reason for Sagi's decision was an alleged sexual harassment complaint made against him by a woman who was his subordinate during his military service, many years ago.
According to a Thursday report in Yedioth Ahronoth, Yachimovich informed Sagi that she had learned about the case and asked him to withdraw from the race.
'Slander meant to ruin me'
Speaking with Yedioth Ahronoth Sagi said that the allegations were "Slander meant to ruin my health and my family."
According to Sagi, he met with Yachimovich to tell her he was scheduled to undergo minor surgery and she told me, in private, that a woman approached her and complained against me. She didn't tell me who the woman was or what is was that I supposedly did.
"I told her right away that this wasn’t going to work and that I can do without Labor. I don't have the time or the energy to deal with this nonsense."
He stressed he had no idea who the woman could be. "If this happened so many years ago, I probably wasn't even married then. Who is this woman? Where has she been all this time? Why come forward now?" he wondered.
"I have a feeling this is some sort of a blackmail attempt by someone who wanted me to withdraw from the race," he stated.
Sagi added that his legal counsel opposed his decision to drop his political bid. "He told me that was an idiot, that the complaint has no legal merit and that it was outright extortion. But I don't have the time or the inclination to deal with slander. I'm going back to my private life."
Sagi's departure poses a hurdle for the Labor Party, which is not left without a leading defense persona.
The party does have three former senior IDF officers in its ranks: Former defense minister Brig.-Gen. (Ret.) Binyamin Ben-Eliezer, Colonel (Ret.) Omer Bar-Lev, and Lt.-Col (Res) Nahum Ofri.
Moran Azulay and Tzvika Brot, Ynet and Yedioth Ahronoth correspondents, contributed to this report
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