Israel's Ambassador Dermer Was 'Warned That Netanyahu's Spokesperson Posed Risk to Women'

David Keyes denies allegations of assaulting 14 women, announces he was taking time off from his job at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to fight to clear his name from 'false' accusations

In this July 23, 2018 file photo, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu listens to his spokesman David Keyes as he opens the weekly cabinet meeting at his Jerusalem office
Gali Tibbon,AP

Israel’s ambassador to the United States, Ron Dermer, was warned in 2016 by journalist Bret Stephens about allegedly inappropriate behaviour towards 14 women by David Keyes, Prime Minister Benjamin Netnayahu’s spokesperson.

Stephens told the New York Times on Thursday about his warning to Dermer. The Israeli embassy in Washington had no immediate comment on the subject as of Friday morning.  

The NYT report stated that Stephens warned Dermer about Keyes’ alleged misconduct toward women in November 2016, almost two years ago. Keyes was already working for Prime Minsiter Netanyahu at the time, and he left his position only this week, following the publication of allegations made against him by at least 14 women.

One woman told the Times of Israel that Keyes had sexually harassed her during the time he was already working at the Prime Minister’s Office. All the other allegations have to do with events that took place before he began working for Netnayahu. 

Keyes denies any wrongdoing and has called the accusations false. He announced on Thursday that he was taking time off from his job at the Prime Minister’s Office in order to fight to clear his name from the allegations. 

Israel's ambassador to the U.S. Ron Dermer speaks at an IAC conference, June 24, 2018
PERRY BINDELGLASS

The latest report on the subject, which came out in the NYT on Thursday, includes an on-the-record testimony by the paper’s senior columnist and editor Bret Stephens, who says that he told Dermer, the ambassador, about Keyes’ behaviour a few months after Keyes was appointed as Netanyahu’s spokesman. 

The report states that in early November 2016, “after an Israeli reporter began inquiring about Mr. Keyes, Mr. Stephens said he contacted Ron Dermer, the Israeli ambassador to the United States, warning him that Mr. Keyes posed a risk to women in Israeli government offices.”

Stephens, whose writing is usually supportive of Israel, was working as a senior opinion writer for the Wall Street Journal at the time, and according to the report, he barred Keyes from visiting the offices of that paper’s editorial section because of Keyes’ behaviour towards female staffers.

Stephens told the NYT he personally chided Keyes, calling him a "disgrace to men" and "a disgrace as a Jew."

Keyes spoke of the allegations, saying: “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. I am fully confident that the truth will come out."