Court throws out Sara Netanyahu’s appeal on mistreatment of ex-employees
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Court throws out Sara Netanyahu’s appeal on mistreatment of ex-employees

PM's wife must pay NIS 6,000 in plaintiffs' lawyer fees; judge rejects demand she be allowed to present evidence, witnesses

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attends a meeting of the lobby for encouraging Bible study, at the Knesset, January 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, attends a meeting of the lobby for encouraging Bible study, at the Knesset, January 31, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The National Labor Court rejected on Thursday an appeal filed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, on a ruling last year that she mistreated a former caretaker and maintenance worker at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The court said Netanyahu, who was not a party in the case, does not have the right to appeal and she was ordered to pay NIS 6,000 ($1,625) in lawyers’ fees to Menny Naftali and Guy Eliyahu.

The judge said Netanyahu knowingly decided not to become a party to the proceedings and should thus not be allowed join as part of an appeal, which she filed late last month, arguing that she be given a chance to defend herself and produce witnesses and evidence in her favor.

Though Netanyahu was called in as a witness during the trial, she was not allowed to bring witnesses and testimonies on her behalf, as a defendant would.

Former Prime Minister's Residence employee Guy Eliyahu,left, and Former Prime Minister's Residence manager Menny Naftali, right, at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on February 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Prime Minister’s Residence employee Guy Eliyahu, left, and former Prime Minister’s Residence manager Menny Naftali, right, at the National Labor Court in Jerusalem on February 28, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Naftali had sued both the state and the Prime Minister’s Residence. His accusations ranged from claims of verbal abuse and what he called irrational demands by Sara Netanyahu regarding the management of the residence to allegations that the prime minister’s wife had him return wine bottles to supermarkets and then pocketed the deposits.

The judge wrote in her ruling that “numerous testimonies presented to the court point to an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the residence due to the behavior of Mrs. Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers. These included irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage.”

The state was ordered to award Naftali NIS 170,000 in compensation (about $43,735) in February of 2016.

In May of 2016, the same court awarded NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages to Eliyahu, ruling that Sara Netanyahu had mistreated him with verbal abuse and unreasonable demands.

Netanyahu has rejected the claims of both Naftali and Eliyahu.

State prosecutors were also set to decide whether to indict Sara Netanyahu in a different case. The prime minister’s wife is accused of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents and breach of trust. Two of the cases involve her using state money to order food for personal use, and a third case involves using public funds to pay for a caretaker for her elderly father.

Last May, police recommended that Netanyahu stand trial on graft allegations.

The Netanyahus are also suspects in another corruption investigation, dubbed Case 1000, surrounding allegations they accepted illicit, expensive gifts — in the form of luxuries such as champagne, cigars, meals — from wealthy businessmen.

The prime minister was grilled by police investigators from the anti-graft unit, Lahav 433, earlier this week in the fourth such interview surrounding the case. The police questioning, which lasted over four hours, was interrupted for 30 minutes so that Netanyahu could accept a call from US President Donald Trump to discuss regional affairs.

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