JERUSALEM — David Keyes, a spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, said Thursday that he is taking a “leave of absence” to “clear his name” after at least a dozen women in the past two days accused him of inappropriate behavior or sexual harassment.
Most of the allegations have been made anonymously, the Times of Israel reported, with the exception of two women who revealed their identities. Most of the claims against Keyes, who was born in the United States, appear to involve incidents alleged to have occurred before his appointment as Netanyahu’s spokesman in 2016, while he was still living in the United States. Some of the suspicions were raised when he initially took up the post.
In a statement Thursday, Keyes said, “In light of the false and misleading accusations against me and in order not to distract from the important work of the Prime Minister, I have asked to take time off to clear my name. I am fully confident that the truth will come out.”
A tweet posted Tuesday by Julia Salazar, a New York state Senate hopeful who is the subject of a controversy about claims that she falsified parts of her biography, sparked the renewed allegations against Keyes.
“I’ve been informed that a story is about to run which identifies me as a victim of sexual assault,” Salazar wrote on Twitter. “Before this runs, I want to come forward and confirm that I was a victim of sexual assault by David Keyes — the Prime Minister of Israel’s spokesperson to the foreign media.”
Keyes denied Salazar’s claim, saying the accusation was being “made by someone who has proved to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life,” Haaretz reported Tuesday.
It was Salazar who initially raised concerns about Keyes, writing in a private Facebook post after his 2016 appointment that he had sexually assaulted her a few years earlier. She later deleted the post but has since acknowledged writing it.
Within hours of Salazar’s post Tuesday, Wall Street Journal reporter Shayndi Raice tweeted, “I also had a terrible encounter with David Keyes once and 100% believe her. I knew this would come out about him at some point.”
“The man had absolutely no conception of the word ‘no.’ No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me,” Raice wrote.
On Thursday, Raphael Ahren, a diplomatic correspondent for the Times of Israel, tweeted that two more women had come forward to allege inappropriate advances by Keyes.