Nanny exposes Netanyahus' obsessions weirdness

On the day Binyamin Netanyahu was elected prime minister of Israel, his wife, Sara, would not let their nanny out of the house to vote. "I really wanted to, but she did not let me go," says Tanya Shaw, the Netanyahu family nanny who was fired for burning the soup last Sunday and has astonished Israelis with her revelations of life in the Prime Minister's household.

During the six months she was employed, Ms Shaw says she was treated with Dickensian rigour by Mrs Netanyahu. On being hired, she said: "I could not wear make-up and I had to wear carpet slippers.''

Her terms of employment were also strict, she says. "We drew up a contract which stated that, if I left, I would have to pay 4,800 shekels (pounds 1,000).''

When Ms Shaw was expelled from the Netanyahu house by the prime minister's bodyguard, she says Mrs Netanyahu refused to let her take belongings unless she first paid pounds 1,000.

Having confided her troubles to the newspaper, Ma'ariv, she did finally return to the house to get her clothes."They packed them like they were throwing away trash," she said. "Even my glasses were broken, and they put the garbage that was in the room in the suitcase."

All this has made riveting reading for Israelis and will certainly have done lasting damage to Mrs Netanyahu, 35, who was previously little known.

It also shows that Mr Netanyahu has a curious home life. According to Ms Shaw's account, his wife is obsessed with cleanliness. "I had to wash my hands every time I was about to touch the children," she says. "I had to wash my hands before I touched their bed, their cothes, the laundry, anything."

Mr Netanyahu was also unable to touch his sons, Avner and Yair, because of his wife's insistance on constant handwashing. Ms Shaw claims that Yair was not allowed to get off the sofa and sat for hours watching television because Mrs Netanyahu thought he would get dirty if his feet touched the floor. She says: "Other children, friends, cannot come to the house because they are 'dirty'.''

The prime minister's office said Ms Shaw was unbalanced and was sacked because she was regarded as a security threat by the Shin Bet security agency. However, a Shin Bet official told the Israeli press: "There is - and, as far as we know, there never was - a security problem with the Netanyahu family nanny. The nanny never disturbed our work and we never perceived her as a security risk."

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