Member of Knesset demands recall of Dermer for ignoring Keyes warning

Karin Elharar says ambassador should "pay the price" for his silence.

September 16, 2018 15:18
2 minute read.
Ron Dermer

Ron Dermer, Israel's Ambassador to the U.S. speaks to members of the news media after meeting with U.S. President Elect Donald Trump at Trump Tower in the Manhattan borough of New York City, U.S. (photo credit: MIKE SEGAR / REUTERS)


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Yesh Atid MK Karin Elharar called on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to recall to Israel Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer on Sunday, after he failed to pass along a warning about David Keyes.

On Thursday, Keyes, the prime minister’s spokesman for foreign media, took a leave of absence from his job after multiple accusations emerged of sexual harassment and assault. Later that day, The New York Timesreported that Dermer was warned in 2016 that Keyes posed a risk to his female coworkers. On Friday, Dermer said he did not pass that warning on to the prime minister.

“Bibi must return Ron Dermer to Israel immediately,” Elharar said Sunday. On Saturday, she sent a letter to Netanyahu, saying that “not only does Dermer’s disregard for the reports about Keyes send a terrible message to women” but he could very well have violated the law. “The message to Dermer and those like him should be clear: You were silent, now you pay the price.”

On Friday, Dermer’s office released a statement saying that he received a phone call “more than six months after David Keyes began working in the Prime Minister’s Office, regarding behavior attributed to Keyes before he joined the office. Information of the call was not conveyed to the Prime Minister’s Office. If [Bret] Stephens or anyone else had given the ambassador information on sexual assault or any other criminal act towards women by anyone in the Prime Minister’s Office – whether before or after their appointment – he would have immediately notified the Prime Minister’s Office.”

The call to Dermer, which was first reported in The New York Times, was made by Bret Stephens, then the deputy opinion editor at The Wall Street Journal. According to the report, Keyes was banned from the WSJ offices because of his behavior toward female employees. Stephens, a former editor in chief of The Jerusalem Post who is currently a New York Times columnist, reportedly told Dermer that Keyes “posed a risk to women in Israeli government offices.”

On Saturday, Meretz MK Michal Rozin sent a letter to Civil Service Commissioner Daniel Hershkowitz asking him to investigate the behavior of both Keyes and Dermer.

The Civil Service Commission did not respond to a request for comment from the Post on Sunday.

A spokesman for the commission told Walla News that “to the best of our knowledge, all of the accusations against Keyes are events that occurred in the United States and before he became a government employee. If that is the case, these are not events that the commission has the authority to investigate.”

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