By Glenn Fleishman
September 14, 2018

The spokesman for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, took a leave of absence after 14 women accused him of sexual assault, harassment, or aggression dating back over several years.

The Times of Israel published accounts of 12 women on Wednesday against David Keyes, a prominent aide to Netanyahu since 2016, including two who discussed their experiences on their own Twitter accounts. Two more came forward to Channel 10 in Israel. Twelve of the 14 women remain anonymous.

On Wednesday, Keyes told the Times of Israel, “All of the accusations are deeply misleading and many of them are categorically false.” On Thursday, he issued statements repeating his denial and noting that he asked for time off to “clear my name.”

The spate of allegations ranges from uncomfortable encounters, some of them starting consensually, to sexual assault. Keyes allegedly sent emails to several women apologizing for “being less than gentlemanly,” and the Times of Israel obtained two of them.

The Daily Beast reports that observers of Israeli politics believe it’s unlikely Keyes will return to his position.

The accusations against Keyes began Tuesday, when New York State Senate Democratic socialist candidate Julia Salazar revealed via Twitter she had first anonymously accused Keyes of sexual assault in 2016. Salazar spoke preemptively, aware that the conservative news site The Daily Caller had contacted her about a story identifying her as the previous accuser. A Wall Street Journal reporter, Shayndi Raice, posted her own account on Twitter.

Salazar’s revelation was complicated by a flurry of stories that picked apart aspects of her past, including claims that she was an immigrant and Jewish. She later stated she was born in America, and converted to Judaism several years ago.

Other reporting revealed that Salazar had been charged with attempted identity theft by a former neighbor. The charges were dropped, and Salazar sued for defamation. The suit was ultimately settled, with Salazar’s attorney claiming to the Daily Mail that she received “a monetary settlement.”

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