(September 14, 2018 / JNS) David Keyes, a spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, announced on Thursday that he was taking a leave of absence to defend himself against accusations of sexual misconduct by at least 14 women.
The development comes after four Knesset members called on the prime minister to suspend Keyes until the reports about the allegations had been elucidated.
“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,” he said in a statement. “I am fully confident that the truth will come out.”
Netanyahu’s office “accepted David Keyes’ request to take time off.”
It is unknown how long Keyes will be out of the office.
Keyes’s move came just after The Times of Israel asked him about a new allegation that he made an “aggressive, sexual” advance towards a female in Israel in 2016, weeks after he became Netanyahu’s spokesperson. A second woman also contacted the news outlet on Thursday, providing a detailed complaint against him.
The Times of Israel published an investigation on Thursday citing 12 women who described a trend of inappropriate behavior by Keyes against themselves and other women in the United States in the years prior to him working for Netanyahu.
Keyes has denied the allegations. “All of the accusations are deeply misleading, and many of them are categorically false,” he told The Times of Israel on Wednesday.
Keyes is not the first person to leave Netanyahu’s office over sexual misconduct allegations. Netanyahu’s chief of staff Gil Sheffer was accused in 2013 of sexual harassment. The previous year, top aide Natan Eshel was forced out over allegations he used a secretly placed camera to film under a female colleague’s skirt.