Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s official residence will employ five new cleaners who don’t have security clearance, with security guards assigned to accompany them at a total cost of more than NIS 10,000 ($2,900) per day in state funds, Hebrew-language media reported Tuesday.
The development came due to the termination of the previous cleaning firm, Moriya, after an employee complained of mistreatment by Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, and two others admitted to lying when they defended the premier’s wife in a previous statement.
After that debacle, Channel 13 reported last month that Netanyahu had demanded that from now on the cleaners not be from Moriya and be fit to serve in a so-called position of trust.
In the meantime, in the absence of cleaning services, much of the building has been accumulating filth, requiring urgent cleaning services, Channel 12 reported.
As an interim solution, the Clean Office company will send the five temporary cleaners to the residence for 12-hour shifts, with a security guard assigned to each one due to the lack of security clearance.
According to both commercial TV channels, the cost of each guard will be NIS 100 per hour while the payment to the cleaners is NIS 70 per hour. With five cleaners and five guards working 12 hours a day, the cost to the state is NIS 10,200 per day.
The Prime Minister’s Office commented that “the positions of trust were approved by the Civil Service Commission. The residential floor in the Prime Minister’s Residence has not had cleaning services for several weeks and the prime minister’s wife cleans the floor herself.
“The employment of the Moriya firm wasn’t terminated; it ended as stated in the contract, after five years, and after all the possible extensions,” it added. “The Moriya firm didn’t fulfill its obligations.”
Police are investigating whether two employees at the official residence gave false testimony in a civil case against Sara Netanyahu — reportedly in order to help her fend off accusations of mistreating a housekeeper.
Media reports have named the two former employees who admitted to having provided false testimony as Liora Babian and Sylvie Genesia.
Sara Netanyahu faces a civil lawsuit from former employee Shira Raban, who claims the premier’s wife mistreated her during a brief stint working at the residence. Raban is seeking $63,000 in damages over alleged mistreatment and harassment.
According to a Channel 13 report last month, Babian — one of the two workers who testified on Sara Netanyahu’s behalf — confessed to the legal adviser of the Prime Minister’s Office that she had lied in an affidavit countering the claims of Raban’s mistreatment. The legal adviser subsequently informed the state prosecutor of the development, prompting the police investigation, which was approved by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit.
Prosecutors then asked the court to delay the civil proceedings in the Raban case by a month to enable the police investigation to uncover evidence.
The second worker named in news reports, Genesia, reportedly told police how the manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence made her pen a letter lauding the premier’s wife, even though Netanyahu’s housekeeping demands had brought her to tears.
Sara Netanyahu is suing Genesia for libel.
Several former employees have claimed mistreatment and abuse by the prime minister’s wife. The official residence’s former caretaker successfully sued her for verbal and emotional abuse, as did another former worker.
In June 2019, Sara Netanyahu was convicted of misusing public funds as part of a plea deal in a case involving allegations she illegally procured and then misreported catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The agreement saw her escape a conviction for aggravated fraud, but plead guilty to a lesser charge of taking advantage of a mistake. She was ordered to pay NIS 55,000 ($15,210) to the state — NIS 10,000 as a fine and the rest as restitution.
The prime minister is currently on trial for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases. He denies the charges against him.