Sara Netanyahu in court: I am victim of plot to topple the PM
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Sara Netanyahu in court: I am victim of plot to topple the PM

Prime minister’s wife says former employees have been paid to testify in abuse lawsuit by ‘people trying to overthrow my husband’

Raoul Wootliff is the The Times of Israel's political correspondent.

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside advocate Yossi Cohen (right) in the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, alongside advocate Yossi Cohen (right) in the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court, October 29, 2015. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara Netanyahu, claimed in court Thursday that one-time employees had been paid to testify against her in an alleged abuse case brought by former workers at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

Telling the Jerusalem District Labor Court that the case was an attempt “to defame her husband,” Mrs. Netanyahu hinted at a wide-ranging conspiracy to bring down the prime minister.

“The people who are trying to overthrow my husband are behind this,” she said, telling the court that she was being targeted because she was an “easy target.

“Its easier for them to attack me. I have become the punching bag for the entire media,” she said. “If I wasn’t the prime minister’s wife, there would be no cases against me at all.”

Mrs. Netanyahu, who has previously been accused of abusing staff, rejected the claims she mistreated employees working under her, saying she had “excellent relations” with all staff members at the official residence.

“The atmosphere at the residence is very good. I treat the employees in a pleasant and cultured way,” she said.

Meni Naftali, the former Prime Minister's Residence manager, seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Photo credit: Flash90)
Menny Naftali, the former housekeeper at the Prime Minister’s Residence, seen during a press conference in Tel Aviv, February 17, 2015. (Flash90)

Former maintenance worker Guy Eliyahu is suing the Prime Minister’s Office for wrongful dismissal and abusive treatment while working under Netanyahu. The allegations are similar to those made by former housekeeper Menny Naftali, as set out in a March complaint against the Netanyahus.

Mrs. Netanyahu told the labor court Thursday that Naftali had sexually abused two staff members, Israel Radio said. She claimed that Naftali had sexually harassed one female member of staff in the Netanyahus’ bedroom, and expressed surprise that he had not been investigated.

In a September deposition, Eliyahu told the court how Sara Netanyahu called him back to work after midnight to warm up soup. “You’ll return whenever I want to eat,” he claimed she told him.

He was also ordered back to the residence in the middle of the night for not wishing 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.

Former cook Eti Haim testified that she was once hit on the hand for mistakenly opening a door on Mrs. Netanyahu.

In a lengthy deposition, Haim also told of an occasion where plates were thrown across the garden patio.

“Mrs. Netanyahu was getting ready upstairs while the prime minister and [their son] Avner waited on the patio reading the newspaper. We gave them salads, a bottle to drink from, and glasses, and the prime minister asked [for the] sun cover,” Haim said.

“When Sara came down, she asked who [used] the cover and Guy [Eliyahu] said it was him. “Who told you to?” she started screaming. Guy said it was the prime minister, but he was reading a newspaper and ignored the scene. Then she said, ‘Take away all the salads, please clear the table and set it up again.’ Avner stood up and said, ‘Mom, it’s okay. Nothing happened.’

“She was angry that he stood up for us and pulled away the tablecloth with everything on it. She was screaming with rage while Guy and I just stood there terrified. Then she threw the dishes with salads and pickles on the floor and said we had five minutes to set the table again.”

Haim had originally refused to testify, but was compelled to do so by the court.

In March, Naftali testified against the Netanyahus, alleging verbal and emotional abuse in addition to financial impropriety by Mrs. Netanyahu. He also claimed that he was promised a permanent position at the Prime Minister’s Residence, an offer that was later reneged upon by the prime minister’s wife.

 

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