Filing defense, Sara Netanyahu denounces ‘bizarre’ abuse lawsuit
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Filing defense, Sara Netanyahu denounces ‘bizarre’ abuse lawsuit

PM's wife says labor court has no authority to rule on $64,000 suit as claimant was never her direct employee

Raoul Wootliff covers politics, corruption and crime for The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara Netanyahu, is seen at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, on October 13, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara Netanyahu, is seen at the Prime Minister's Residence in Jerusalem, on October 13, 2016. (Marc Israel Sellem/Pool/Flash90)

Sara Netanyahu, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, filed a letter of defense on Thursday in an abuse lawsuit against her, rejecting the claims as “bizarre and ugly,” and charging that the labor court hearing the case has no authority to rule on the allegations.

The complainant, Shira Raban, is a 24-year-old ultra-Orthodox mother of three who recently worked as a cleaner at the residence for a month. The NIS 225,000 ($64,000) lawsuit claims Sara Netanyahu insulted the young staffer relentlessly throughout her short tenure at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The lawsuit claims numerous instances of verbal abuse and unreasonable requests on Sara Netanyahu’s part, and says that Rabban feared for her safety while working at the residence.

Netanyahu allegedly forbade the former staffer from eating, drinking, or resting, and required her 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 wipe them with a towel separate from the one used by the Netanyahu family, the lawsuit charged.

Sara Netanyahu’s letter of defense, filed by her attorney Yossi Cohen, describes the claims as “an ugly and bizarre attempt at extortion that reveals Rabban’s shamelessness.”

The letter said that Rabban only worked in the Prime Minister’s Residence for 70 hours in total and that she only met Sarah Netanyahu “on a few occasions for a shout amount of time.”

View of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2009. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

It further charged that the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court hearing the case has no authority to pass judgement on Sara Netayahu given that she was not Rabban’s direct employer.

“We are not talking about a lawsuit in the normal legal framework but rather an absurd media ploy. Even the most slanted media outlets don’t believe the claimant,” the letter read. “She has become an object of ridicule and harsh criticism.”

Last month, Judge Eyal Avrahami asked Rabban to refile her lawsuit, demanding that the offensive language used to describe other employees of the residence be struck from it, particular the term “slave.” He also said that all “irrelevant” information must be removed from the paperwork.

Several former employees have claimed mistreatment by the prime minister’s wife. One, Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the residence, was awarded NIS 170,000 in compensation (about $43,735) last year for mistreatment while working there.

The Netanyahus have denied any wrongdoing and dismissed the allegations as a political witch hunt by hostile media.

Separately, Benjamin Netanyahu is facing two criminal investigations, known as Case 1000 and Case 2000, and is expected to be questioned Friday for a seventh time over suspicions he received illegal gifts and favors from businessmen while advancing their interests.

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