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Court throws out former cleaner’s claim of abuse by Sara Netanyahu

Judges say Shira Raban’s version of events is unreliable and she failed to prove there was abusive behavior on the part of the then-PM’s wife

Sara Netanyahu leaves the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, on June 16, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu leaves the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, on June 16, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A labor court rejected on Wednesday the claim of abuse by a woman who worked as a cleaner for Sara Netanyahu at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The Jerusalem District Labor Court ruled that Shira Raban’s version of events was unreliable, and she had failed to prove there was abusive behavior on Netanyahu’s part when she worked as a cleaner for the wife of then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

The court also said that Raban’s claim that the alleged abuse went on for a prolonged period could not be proven due to the fact that Raban only worked at the residence for a short period of time, and the defense provided evidence that she and Sara Netanyahu were never alone on the same floor.

Despite the dismissal of the lawsuit, the court decided that in view of the plaintiff’s financial situation, she would not be compelled to pay the legal expenses.

In their verdict, the judges wrote that while the legal defense of working conditions should be maintained, it was not without limit.

“Although the growth of this cause should be welcomed, given the significance it has for preserving the rights of workers and formulating a proper standard for a respectful work environment and proper working conditions, it is worth remembering that this cause is not unlimited,” the verdict read.

Shira Raban, a former cleaner at the Prime Minister’s Residence, at the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, on June 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Responding to the ruling, Netanyahu said that she had paid an “unbearable” price over four years of legal wrangling.

“After countless news shows and newspapers led to four years of blood libels, today the court threw out Shira Raban’s claims on all levels,” the statement read. “The price paid by Sara Netanyahu is unbearable. Who will give her back her good name and who will apologize for the malicious slander that was presented to the public as absolute truth?”

In a Facebook post, her husband, Benjamin Netanyahu, called the ruling “the end of another shameful chapter in the false smear campaign against Sara Netanyahu.”

Sara Netanyahu was sued by Raban, who worked as a cleaner at the Netanyahus’ official residence in Jerusalem for a month in 2017 — a total of 20 working days.

Raban alleged that the then-prime minister’s wife insulted her relentlessly throughout her short tenure. She filed her lawsuit shortly after leaving her position, claiming NIS 225,000 ($69,000) in damages.

Raban claimed she was forced to endure unacceptable conditions by Netanyahu while working on the second floor of the residence.

Some of the former employee’s complaints included not being allowed to take leave when one of her children was sick, and being forced to use the bathroom outside the main building. She also claimed that the prime minister’s oldest son, Yair Netanyahu, would conduct cleanliness inspections.

Netanyahu allegedly forbade Raban to eat, drink, or rest, and she was required to change her clothes dozens of times a day. She was also required to wash her hands about 100 times a day with hot water, and was expected to dry them with a towel separate from the one used by the Netanyahu family, the lawsuit charged.

Several former employees have claimed mistreatment and abuse by Sara Netanyahu. The official residence’s former caretaker successfully sued her in the past for verbal and emotional abuse, as did another former worker.

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