David Keyes (L) and US Ambassador Ron Dermer (R).
(photo credit: REUTERS)
The Civil Services Commission formally closed its disciplinary investigations this week into whether David Keyes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s English-language spokesman, sexually harassed a woman after beginning his job in April 2016.
The commission also closed investigations into taking disciplinary action against Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer for not reporting back to Jerusalem a conversation he had with New York Times columnist Bret Stephens, then a columnist for The Wall Street Journal, warning that Keyes posed a risk to women employed by the Israeli government.
In a letter to the PMO on Tuesday, Guy David, the head of the commission’s department of discipline, said that neither case warranted further disciplinary action.
In September, Julia Salazar, a controversial candidate at the time for the New York State Senate, alleged sexual assault in a tweet. Shandy Raice, a reporter for The Wall Street Journal, backed Salazar soon after and said she was also the victim of sexual misconduct by Keyes. A number of other women, most anonymously, have come forward with allegations of sexual misbehavior by Keyes.
Keyes has denied the allegations.
While those allegations – because they allegedly took place in the US before Keyes began his work at the Prime Minister’s Office – are beyond the purview of the Civil Services Commission, the commission became involved following a report in the Times of Israel of a woman, who asked to remain anonymous, who alleged sexual misbehavior on Keyes part in Israel after he began working for Netanyahu.
David wrote that the description of the incident by the woman, given in a telephone conversation with one of the commission’s senior officials in which the woman’s anonymity was maintained, took place outside the framework of Keyes work in the PMO and did not constitute sexual harassment.
David wrote that the commission’s findings have no bearing on other issues regarding Keyes, such as his suitability for the job, which is the responsibility of the PMO.
Regarding Dermer, David wrote that his failure to relay warnings about Keyes was turned over to the Foreign Ministry’s Inspector-General Orna Sagiv. Dermer told Sagiv that he remembers his conversation with Stephens, but that there was nothing new in what he said, and that he did not remember him saying that Keyes posed a danger to women working in the government. .
David wrote that the Stephens-Dermer conversation took place seven months after Keyes began working in the PMO, and that the information Stephens relayed was similar to allegations against Keyes that appeared in the media just prior to his appointment. David wrote that Dermer’s claim that he did not pass on the information because he did not see anything new in it was accepted, and that there was no need for further disciplinary action.
The Prime Minister’s Office would not answer whether Keyes
will be returning to his position, whether a replacement will be named, or whether a search for a replacement has begun.
Channel 2 reported last week that Keyes would formally resign from his post after the Civil Services Commission investigation was closed.
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