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Sara Netanyahu sues for libel ex-worker who claims to have lied on her behalf

Sylvie Genesia has said she was told to praise premier’s wife in a letter while working at official residence, despite mistreatment

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives to a court hearing at the regional labor court in Jerusalem, in the case of Shira Raban, a former employee at the Prime Minister's Residence, December 23, 2019.  (Yonatan SIndel/FLASH90)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives to a court hearing at the regional labor court in Jerusalem, in the case of Shira Raban, a former employee at the Prime Minister's Residence, December 23, 2019. (Yonatan SIndel/FLASH90)

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, on Tuesday sued a former housekeeper at the Prime Minister’s Residence for libel and breach of contract, after the ex-employee told police investigators that she had lied when she defended the premier’s wife in a previous statement.

The suit seeks NIS 200,000 ($57,000) from Sylvie Genesia, who 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.

Netanyahu’s lawyers claim Genesia was lying about being poorly treated and accused her of extortion, although they did not specify whom she was trying to extort.

In a letter dated October 3, 2019, Genesia wrote, “Mrs. Netanyahu is an amazing woman and always treats me with great respect. I really appreciate her and learn from her,” Channel 12 reported.

Sylvie Genesia (Screenshot/Channel 13)

According to text messages Genesia sent to Yoram Naveh, the manager of her company, that were published by Channel 12 news last week, Genesia claimed that the letter had been dictated to her.

Residence manager Efi Azulai “told me to write all kinds of things, that she acts with great respect,” Genesia wrote to Naveh. “This morning was really difficult, I cried a lot because of her [Netanyahu] and Efi didn’t let me go. I am not happy with the letter that he gave me to write.”

“He told you what to write?” Naveh asked.

“Yes,” Genesia responded.

View of the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem on June 23, 2009. (Yossi Zamir/Flash90)

Genesia also made this claim to police as part of a new investigation into whether two employees at the Prime Minister’s Residence gave false testimony in a civil case against Sara Netanyahu — purportedly in order to help her fend off accusations of mistreating a cleaner at the residence.

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 seeks $63,000 in damages over alleged mistreatment and harassment.

Genesia’s attorney, Opheer Shimshon, told Channel 12 that the letter was evidence of obfuscation by managers of the housekeeping company and the Prime Minister’s Office.

“This is further proof that pressure was put on the workers in the residence to make false declarations, and that the senior managers in the Moriah company and in the Prime Minister’s Office were partners to the invalid pressure campaign,” Shimshon said.

He said the goal of the campaign was “to hide the truth about known facts of bullying in the residence by Mrs. Netanyahu.”

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 Netanyahu escape a conviction for aggravated fraud, but confess 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.

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