Woman suing Sara Netanyahu seeks to haul PMO officials into court

Former employee is suing PM’s wife for alleged abuse; Netanyahu’s lawyer condemns request, says prosecutor should apologize for even considering it

Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, on October 7, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu, wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, arrives at the Jerusalem Magistrate's Court, on October 7, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A former employee at the Prime Minister’s Residence filed court papers Sunday, asking that senior officials from the Prime Minister’s Office take the stand and be questioned as part of her lawsuit against Sara Netanyahu.

She was seeking court summons of a number of senior officials, including PMO Director-General Yoav Horowitz, the official residence manager Effie Azoulay, and the prime minister’s adviser on ultra-Orthodox affairs, Rivka Paluch, the Walla news site reported.

Shira Raban, then a 24-year-old ultra-Orthodox mother of three, worked as a cleaner at the Netanyahu official residence for a month in 2017. She filed her lawsuit shortly after leaving her position, claiming NIS 225,000 ($64,000) in damages. Raban has alleged that the prime minister’s wife insulted her relentlessly throughout her short tenure.

Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Cohen derided the request to involve the prime minister’s aides and other officials in the case, saying “it is embarrassing and disgraceful that the prosecutor did not cancel this ridiculous claim and ask forgiveness.”

Attorney Yossi Cohen, the lawyer of Sara and Benjamin Netanyahu at a court hearing regarding a lawsuit filed by Shira Raban at the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court on November 8, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Some of the former employee’s complaints included not being allowed to take leave when one of her children was sick, and being forced to use the bathroom outside the main building.

She also claimed that the prime minister’s oldest son, Yair Netanyahu, would conduct cleanliness inspections.

Netanyahu allegedly forbade the former staffer from eating, drinking, or resting, and she was required to change her clothes dozens of times a day. She was also required to wash her hands about 100 times a day with hot water, and was expected to wipe them with a towel, separate from the one used by the Netanyahu family, the lawsuit charged.

The Netanyahus deny any wrongdoing, dismissing allegations as a political witch hunt by a hostile media.

Several former employees have previously claimed mistreatment by the prime minister’s wife. The official residence’s former caretaker has successfully sued her for verbal and emotional abuse.

Sara Netanyahu is also involved in an ongoing criminal case in which she and Ezra Saidoff, a former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, were charged last June with fraud and breach of trust over allegations they misused some $100,000 in funds on catered meals while there was a full-time chef on staff.

Sara Netanyahu’s trial is separate from her husband’s legal woes, which revolve around suspicions the prime minister accepted illicit gifts, took bribes and tried to arrange favors for media barons in exchange for positive press coverage.

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