Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Monday filed an appeal with the National Labor Court over its ruling last year that she mistreated a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence.
The state was ordered to award Menny Naftali NIS 170,000 in compensation (about $43,735) in February of 2016, after a judge accepted his claims of verbal and emotional abuse at the hands of Mrs. Netanyahu.
Netanyahu’s attorney Yossi Cohen demanded that the premier’s wife be given a chance to defend herself and produce witnesses and evidence in her favor — an opportunity he said she did not have as she was not named a defendant in the original case. If she had been, he asserted, she would have presented conclusive evidence to refute Naftali’s claims.
As an example, he brought up Naftali’s testimony that Mrs. Netanyahu would drink “crazy amounts” of alcohol and would finish three bottles of champagne a day.
“It’s obvious that the average person, and certainly a person of the appellant’s weight, is incapable of drinking three bottles of champagne a day,” Cohen said. “Particularly if that person works as an expert psychologist in the public service, a position that carries many responsibilities.”
Cohen also stated that the verdict could open Netanyahu to a lawsuit by the state, demanding reimbursement for the damages paid to Naftali — all the more reason, he said, to let her be heard.
Though Netanyahu was called in as a witness during the trial, she was not allowed to bring forward witnesses and testimonies on her behalf, as a defendant would.
Naftali had sued the state and the Prime Minister’s Residence. His accusations ranged from claims of verbal abuse and what he called irrational demands by Sara Netanyahu regarding the management of the residence to allegations that the prime minister’s wife made him return wine bottles to supermarkets and then pocketed the deposits.
The judge wrote in her ruling that “numerous testimonies presented to the court point to an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the residence due to the behavior of Mrs. Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers. These included irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage.”
In May of 2016 t,he same court awarded NIS 120,000 ($31,000) in damages to another former employee, maintenance worker Guy Eliyahu, ruling that Mrs. Netanyahu had mistreated him with verbal abuse and unreasonable demands.
Netanyahu has rejected the claimes of both Naftali and Eliyahu.
State prosecutors are also set to decide whether to indict Mrs. Netanyahu in a different case. The prime minister’s wife is accused of improper behavior and misuse of state funds relating to the Prime Minister’s Residence, including receiving goods under false pretenses, falsifying documents and breach of trust.Two of the cases involve her using state money to order food for personal use, and a third case involves using public funds to pay for a caretaker for her elderly father.
Last May, police recommended that Netanyahu stand trial on graft allegations.