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Netanyahu Aide Steps Aside After Sexual Assault Allegations

JERUSALEM — A top aide to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu of Israel said Thursday that he was taking a leave from his post after a New York State Senate candidate accused him of assault and a number of other women, relating similar experiences, denounced what they called his “predatory” behavior.

The official, David Keyes, Mr. Netanyahu’s English-language spokesman, was publicly accused of sexual assault on Twitter on Tuesday by Julia Salazar, who is running in the Democratic primary on Thursday. Several other women have made similar accusations in interviews with The New York Times.

Mr. Keyes, who was reportedly under consideration for appointment as Israel’s ambassador to the United Nations has denied the allegations. But late Thursday, he said he was taking a leave of absence.

“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.”

The allegations predate his appointment by Mr. Netanyahu in March 2016.

Before joining the Israeli government, Mr. Keyes, 34, a California-born immigrant to Israel, ran two small advocacy groups based in New York — CyberDissidents.Org and Advancing Human Rights — promoting conservative positions on Israel.

As he gained prominence, he had frequent speaking engagements and television appearances, and generated publicity with satirical stunts mocking the human-rights records of countries like Iran and Saudi Arabia. The New York Times called him a “pioneer in online activism” in 2012.

Ms. Salazar, a Brooklyn activist, said that she had decided to go public with her accusation only after a reporter said he was going to “out her” as a victim of sexual assault in an article.

Another woman, Shayndi Raice, a Wall Street Journal reporter, wrote on Twitter on Tuesday that she, too, had had “a terrible encounter” with Mr. Keyes and said she completely believed Ms. Salazar’s account.

“The man had absolutely no conception of the word ‘no,’” Ms. Raice wrote. “No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me. I was able to extricate myself quickly and it was a very brief and uncomfortable moment but I knew as I walked away I had encountered a predator.”

Source: NYT > World

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