Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife Sara insulted and raged at household staff, creating an abusive working environment at the Israeli Prime Minister’s official residence, an employment court has ruled.
Allegations of mistreatment levelled by Meni Naftali, a former chief caretaker at the Jerusalem home, were dismissed by the Prime Minister’s Office as “evil, skewed gossip” when the civil lawsuit was filed in 2014. But the court, in its 40-page decision, said testimony by Mr Naftali and other former household employees about Ms Netanyahu’s alleged abusive behaviour towards them at the Jerusalem residence was credible.
Ms Netanyahu has elicited a multitude of headlines in the past over what family spokesmen have decried as an undeserved reputation for imperiousness. An earlier case, in 2010, in which a housekeeper accused her of being abusive, was settled out of court. A spokesman at the Prime Minister’s Office declined to comment on the labour court’s verdict. Mr Naftali, who resigned in 2012 after a 20-month stint at the Prime Minister’s residence, said he had been subjected to repeated scoldings by Ms Netanyahu.
In one instance, he said, she had called him at 3am to chide him for buying milk packaged in a plastic bag rather than in a carton. Testimony by other former employees also pointed to “abusive employment conditions at the Prime Minister’s residence as a result of Mrs Netanyahu’s behaviour”, the court said. “These included exaggerated demands, insults, humiliation and angry outbursts,” according to the verdict.
In her appearance before the court, Ms Netanyahu called the allegations slander and lies. She testified that she enjoyed excellent relations with employees and that she treated them “with politeness”. But, the court said, “this is not the conclusion reached from the evidence presented to us”. Witnesses had been persuasive and credible, it said.