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Former Netanyahu aide accused of sexual assault

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's former chief of staff has been accused of sexual offenses, Israeli police announced yesterday.

Gil Sheffer, who held the top post in the prime minister's bureau from May 2012 to July 2013, is said to be under house arrest for five days after being questioned following a month-long investigation by police into accusations that he sexually assaulted a woman.

Sheffer's lawyer Gil Fridman said on Tuesday that the claims against his client were "ridiculous" and would be proven wrong. "At the end of the investigation it will become clear that there was nothing untoward in my client's actions," he said.

The charges were filed six weeks ago, in them, the woman claimed the former official locker her into an apartment after a meeting and forcibly tried to kiss and rape her.

Sheffer has served as chief-of-staff in the Prime Minister's Office and was responsible for the prime minister's social events and private trips.

Israel's Channel 2 reported earlier that although the former aide's alleged act did not take place while he worked for Netanyahu, he remained close to the prime minister and his wife Sara.

The claims against Sheffer appear to have been filed in light of a separate investigation into alleged financial irregularities at the prime minister's official residence, which are considered illegal by police. He was also revealed to have been questioned in connection with the case.

The Times of Israel has revealed that Sheffer's resignation as chief of staff after only one year on the job came amid reports of a previous sexual harassment allegation against him dating back some 15 years.

Sheffer has stressed that his departure was agreed upon with the prime minister and had nothing to do with the accusations against him. "There was no connection between the departure and these claims," he said. The Prime Minister's Office reiterated that the resignation was unrelated to the allegations.

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