Netanyahu asks to postpone court case involving ex-custodian

Prime minister says proceedings may have unacceptable influence on political system before elections

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife, Sara, in an undated photo (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/Flash90, File)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu with his wife, Sara, in an undated photo (photo credit: Amos Ben Gershom/Flash90, File)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu submitted a request Friday to postpone until after the March 2015 elections the court proceedings and testimony hearings in a lawsuit filed by the Netanyahus’ former house manager.

Sara Netanyahu must testify in the case in which Menny Naftali accused her of abuse, the Jerusalem Labor Court ruled this week.

“In order to avoid an unacceptable influence on the political system, deliberations must be postponed due to the upcoming elections,” the Friday request from Netanyahu read, according to Ynet.

Naftali’s lawyers opposed the move, saying the court must not take into account political considerations. These were irrelevant in a labor court, according to the  attorneys.

Naftali filed a complaint against his former employers in March, providing extensive descriptions of humiliation, racist remarks and angry outbursts that he allegedly suffered at the hands of Sara Netanyahu. Naftali is suing the prime minister for NIS 1 million ($260,000) in damages.

Naftali also alleged that the Netanyahus did not meet certain financial obligations regarding his employment and that he was not compensated for irregular hours or workdays.

The Netanyahus denied the allegations in early June, and claimed that Naftali lashed out violently against other workers. They said that Naftali was well aware of the special circumstances the job entailed, including the unusual work hours and constant availability, and had agreed to comply with the terms prior to accepting the position.

Menny Naftali (photo credit: screenshot via Channel 2)
Menny Naftali (photo credit: screenshot via Channel 2)

“The house manager in the home of the prime minister must, as part of the position, be available to work for many hours,” their statement read.

The statement also asserted that Naftali had chosen to sleep over in the residence at times that his presence was not necessary, such as when the family was abroad, and subsequently billed the prime minister’s residence for many extra hours of work.

They claimed that Naftali had never complained about any purported abuse, not even in his letter of resignation. It stated that the ex-custodian had said that he was quitting because he was not granted a permanent position.

The Netanyahus reserved the right to sue Naftali for damages and legal fees, they said.

Among the instances cited in the original complaint, Naftali recounted that Sara Netanyahu once woke him at 3 a.m. to yell at him for buying milk in a bag, not a carton. When he noted the hour and Netanyahu’s tone, he was allegedly told, by the prime minister himself, to comply with all of her wishes “so that she calms down.”

In another incident described in the complaint, Sara Netanyahu allegedly came into a room and saw that a vase was filled with flowers that were not fresh. According to Naftali, she knocked the vase to the ground while yelling at him and telling him that he was a bad house manager, and that “something like that would not happen in the Elysee Palace.”

Responding to the Netanyahus’ counterclaims, Naftali’s attorney, Naomi Landau, said in a statement that they did not address many of the outstanding allegations in the original complaint.

“Instead of grappling with the claims of non-payment, harsh and degrading treatment, abuse and more, they chose to deflect the debate by raising false allegations of violence that is unrelated to the lawsuit against them, and whose entire purpose is to defame the plaintiff,” Landau said.

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