Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara was “forcibly” removed from a meeting with outgoing Prime Minister’s Office Director-General Eli Groner after she berated and tried to attack him, Hadashot news reported Friday, adding details to earlier reports of a violent altercation over expenses.
Sources from the Prime Minister’s Office told the TV station that Sara Netanyahu confronted Groner during a January meeting, yelling “We hate you,” while pointing a pen at him “in a threatening manner,” until she was removed from the room by chief of staff Yoav Horowitz.
“Horowitz grabbed her hand and pulled her, some would say forcibly, out of the room while telling her to ‘calm down, calm down,'” sources told Hadashot.
Groner, who announced earlier this week that he is stepping down from the position, has denied that the incident occurred. Netanyahu has not yet announced his replacement.
On Thursday, the Haaretz daily reported that Sara Netanyahu become violently angry during a dispute over the funding of renovations at the prime minister’s private residence in Caesarea, and lunged at Groner, forcing him to push her off.
Sara Netanyahu slammed the report as false.
Haaretz quoted sources in the PMO who said that in early January, Sara Netanyahu requested money to renovate their property in Caesarea. After she was unable to reach Groner on the phone, Sara Netanyahu went to the PMO where she angrily confronted him. The sources said the exchange became so heated that Sara Netanyahu lunged at Groner, who pushed her off before they were separated.
After the confrontation, Groner allegedly considered resigning immediately. He discussed it with Netanyahu’s bureau chief, Yoav Horowitz, who said he would raise it with the prime minister. Horowitz promised that Netanyahu would ensure it did not happen again.
The report said that Sara Netanyahu had asked her husband several times to fire Groner but he refused.
After the report was published, Sara Netanyahu accused the media of constantly blowing the stories about her out of proportion. She said the media had been spreading its “delirium of lies for the last 20 years.”
“Tendentious lies. The Israeli media is so wicked to me. The proportion shows how petty, delusional, and small this is,” she said in a video filmed while visiting the grave of a fallen IDF soldier.
Benjamin Netanyahu said he was waiting for the day the Israeli media would write something true about his wife “as a wife, mother, and daughter, as someone who does so much good for the Israeli public,” adding that he would have to wait a long time for that to ever happen.
Though slamming the the media for reporting “lies,” the Netanyahus stopped short of directly denying the report.
Asked if they could unequivocally deny the incident took place, a spokesperson for the Prime Minister’s Office referred The Times of Israel to Groner’s denial, quoted by Haaretz, but declined to comment on whether Benjamin or Sara Netanyahu personally reject the account. A spokesperson for the Netanyahu family also declined to comment on whether couple deny the incident took place.
This is not the first time the prime minister’s wife has been accused of violent conduct, with the Jerusalem District Labor Court having awarded compensation to former employees of the prime minister’s wife on two separate occasions.
In one 2016 case, the court awarded NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages to a former employee of the Netanyahus official residence, ruling that Sara Netanyahu, had mistreated him with verbal abuse and unreasonable demands. In a separate case that year, the court awarded Menny Naftali, a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, NIS 170,000 (about $43,735) in damages, accepting his claims of mistreatment by Sara Netanyahu.
In the Naftali case, a former cook at the residence, Eti Haim, also testified against Sara Netanyahu, telling the court that the prime minister’s wife once hit her on the hand for mistakenly opening a door on her. In a lengthy deposition, Haim, who was compelled to testify by the court after initially refusing to do so, also told of an occasion where Sara Netanyahu threw plates at her across the garden patio.
Separately, on Sunday it was reported that the attorney general intends to indict Sara Netanyahu wife for allegedly diverting state funds for her own personal use.