Court dismisses abuse case appeal by Sara Netanyahu
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Court dismisses abuse case appeal by Sara Netanyahu

PM's wife not allowed to challenge compensation awarded to maintenance worker for mistreatment at official residence

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Jerusalem Labor Court on October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, at the Jerusalem Labor Court on October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The National Labor Court on Monday threw out an appeal by the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu against a ruling that awarded damages to a former employee of the couple’s official residence who had alleged verbal and mental abuse.

In addition, the court, located in Jerusalem, ordered Sara Netanyahu to pay NIS 3,000 in legal fees over the failed petition.

Former maintenance worker Guy Eliyahu sued the Prime Minister’s Office for wrongful dismissal and abusive treatment while working at the Jerusalem residence, one of several civil suits alleging Sara Netanyahu mistreated employees.

Netanyahu had hoped to appeal a May decision by the labor court which awarded NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages to Eliyahu after it ruled that she had mistreated him with verbal abuse and unreasonable demands.

Judge Dita Proginin ordered the Cleanor human resources company, which employed Eliyahu, to pay him NIS 30,000 ($7,780), and the state to pay NIS 65,000 ($16,860) for “distress” and NIS 25,000 ($6,490) more for breaking labor laws relating to work hours and rest periods.

The state and Cleanor were also ordered to pay court expenses of NIS 12,000 ($3,100) within 30 days.

Former Prime Minister's Residence employee Guy Eliyahu speaks with the media as he arrives for his lawsuit against the Prime Minister's Office at the regional Labor court in Jerusalem, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Former Prime Minister’s Residence employee Guy Eliyahu speaks with the media as he arrives for his lawsuit against the Prime Minister’s Office at the regional Labor court in Jerusalem, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

In testimony given last September, Eliyahu told the court that Sara Netanyahu had called him back to work after midnight to warm up a bowl of soup. “You’ll return whenever I want to eat,” she scolded him, he said.

He was also ordered back to the residence in the middle of the night for not having wished Mrs. Netanyahu a good night. “You have to say good night to me before you go,” he said he was told.

On another occasion, he said he was sent to buy food only to be accused of “trying to make her fat” when he returned.

In March, Proginin awarded Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, NIS 170,000 ($43,735) in damages, accepting his claims of mistreatment by Sara Netanyahu. The ruling led to a failed bid by Sara Netanyahu to have Proginin dismissed from the Eliyahu case.

After the Eliyahu ruling Yossi Cohen, Sara Netanyahu’s attorney and a long-time friend of the Netanyahu family, rejected the court decision, saying “the real abusive treatment is that by Judge Proginin, who, as expected, again blatantly ignored the testimony of Mrs. Netanyahu.”

He also claimed “the court case has been handled in a one-sided manner and Mrs. Netanyahu was not allowed to bring witnesses that would have discredited the false and deceitful claims of Guy Eliyahu.”

The outburst earned Cohen a disciplinary hearing from the Israel Bar Association while the state Judicial Authority called the comments “irresponsible” and said it planned to lodge an official complaint against Cohen with the bar association.

Times of Israel staff contributed to this report.

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