DAVID KEYES (R) and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (L).
(photo credit: HAIM ZACH/GPO)
Two female MKs called on Thursday for David Keyes, the English-language spokesman for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, to be suspended after multiple accusations of sexual assault and harassment surfaced.
"I think Prime Minister Netanyahu needs to get involved," Kulanu MK Merav Ben-Ari tweeted on Thursday. "It's not logical that a top adviser harasses - you could say obsessively - many women, and continues his job as if nothing happened."
Ben-Ari said that if she, God forbid, had an adviser like that, "I would place him that day on unpaid leave until all the facts are cleared up."
Meretz MK Michal Rozin, who is the former director of the Association of Rape Crisis Centers in Israel, said Thursday that Keyes must step down.
"Keyes can no longer represent Israel in the foreign media," she said. "The silence of the prime minister can be interpreted in the world as accepting his behavior. The brave testimonies that have been revealed in recent days paint a disturbing picture of a pattern of offense."
Rozin said that Keyes doesn't just represent Netanyahu abroad, but also the State of Israel "and the message that is being sent by his silence is agreement." She added that the prime minister should suspend Keyes and determine the facts of the case.
Michal Gera-Margaliot, the executive director of the Israel Women's Network, told The Jerusalem Post
on Thursday that Netanyahu must act.
"As you know, this is not the first time that an employee in the Prime Minister's Office has been accused of sexual harassment and assault," said Gera-Margaliot. "We expect the prime minister to release a statement that the allegations against David Keyes are being investigated, and until then he is suspended from regular work."
She added that the Prime Minister's Office must "commit to maintaining a safe working environment for all its employees."
Gera-Margaliot was referring to the case of Natan Eshel, the former Netanyahu chief of staff who was accused of sexually harassing an employee over a period of several years. Eshel was replaced as chief of staff by Gil Sheffer, who was later accused of sexual assault and harassment by multiple women. Police recommended Sheffer be indicted, but prosecutors ultimately chose not to press charges.
On Tuesday, New York State Senate candidate Julia Salazar stated
that she was sexually assaulted by Keyes in New York in 2013. An anonymous complaint was made against Keyes in 2016, when he was first appointed to his current job, but was dismissed. But this week, Salazar said she wanted to preempt an article intending to name her as the complainant. She told Jezebel on Tuesday that after meeting for coffee, the pair went to Keyes' home, where he held her down and forced her to perform oral sex.
That same day, Wall Street Journal reporter Shayndi Raice said she also had a "terrible encounter" with Keyes, where "No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me."
Since those accusations, reports on Israel's Channel Ten and in the Times of Israel say that at least a dozen women allege that Keyes assaulted or harassed them. Keyes has denied all the accusations against him.
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