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New York senate candidate accuses Netanyahu spokesman of sexual assault

David Keyes branded a 'predator' as Julia Salazar and other women come forward with sexual assault allegations
Julia Salazar, right, said she was assaulted by David Keyes in 2013, three years prior to his appointment as Netanyahu's spokesperson (AP)

A spokesperson for Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been accused of rape by a US senate candidate running in the state of New York.

Writing on Twitter on Tuesday evening, Julia Salazar said that David Keyes had sexually assaulted her and that she was going public with the information as a story was about to be broken detailing the accusations.

"This story appears to be an effort to cast doubt upon my, and other women's, accusations against Keyes," she wrote on the post.

"There's a reason women don't often come forward after a traumatic experience - because of the triggering and vicious responses that follow."

"I strongly believe sexual assault survivors should not be outed in this way, and am saddened by the effect this story may have on other women."

Shortly after Salazar's comments, Shayndi Raice - a news reporter at the Wall Street Journal - tweeted that she had "also had a terrible encounter with David Keyes once and 100% believe her", and branded Keyes a "predator".

"The man had absolutely no conception of the word 'no.' No matter how often I said no, he would not stop pushing himself on me," she wrote.

"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."

Middle East Eye contacted Keyes for a response to Raice's allegations but had yet to receive a reply at the time of publication.

Keyes, who was appointed to his role in 2016, denied the allegations and told the Times of Israel that the "encounter" he had with Salazar in 2013 had been consensual.

"This false accusation is made by someone who has proven to be repeatedly dishonest about her own life. This is yet another example of her dishonesty," he said, referring to allegations made in the US media that Salazar had lied about her Jewish heritage.

Salazar is a member of the left-wing Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) organisation, which formally supports the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions (BDS) movement against Israel.

Polls are set to open on 13 September in New York, where Salazar is challenging incumbent Martin Dilan in the state’s 18th district.

Salazar had previously made accusations against Keyes in a Facebook post in 2016 - which was later deleted - after Keyes announced his appointment to his current job:

Israeli media reported the story, anonymously, at the time.

Speaking to the feminist website Jezebel on Tuesday, Salazar said she had "never wanted to speak about this publicly".

"For people to tie to it anything else in my life, or to try to conflate me being sexually assaulted with anything else that’s been reported, is really, I think, it’s really cynical and really just appalling," she said.