High Court says Sara Netanyahu cannot appeal in mistreatment case
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High Court says Sara Netanyahu cannot appeal in mistreatment case

Judges say she was not party to the proceedings; order PM's wife to pay NIS 2,500 in court fees to Menny Naftali and Guy Eliyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are seen as they enter the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on March 14, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara are seen as they enter the Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court on March 14, 2017. (Moti Kimchi/Pool)

The High Court of Justice on Tuesday rejected Sara Netanyahu’s petition to allow her to appeal a lower court’s ruling that said she had mistreated a former caretaker and a maintenance worker at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The court upheld the National Labor Court decision in March that Netanyahu, who was not a party in the case, does not have the right to appeal last year’s ruling. She was also ordered to pay NIS 2,500 ($700) in lawyers’ fees to Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, and Guy Eliyahu, a former maintenance worker there.

When Netanyahu turned to the labor court, arguing that she should be given a chance to defend herself and produce witnesses and evidence in her favor, the judge said Netanyahu had knowingly decided to avoid the proceedings and should thus not be allowed to appeal.

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, as the suit was not against her.

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 she instructed him to return bottles to supermarkets and then pocketed the deposits.

The judge wrote in her original 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 pay Naftali NIS 170,000 ($43,735) in compensation 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 rejected the claims of both Naftali and Eliyahu.

Last week, an unsourced Channel 10 report said that State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan is to support indicting Sara Netanyahu in another case, though the news station did not specify which one. She 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.

In response, a spokesperson for the prime minister said at the time the report was an “embarrassment and disgrace.”

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