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The New Arab

Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu's wife convicted of abusing employee

Saran Netanyahu has faced numerous allegations of employee abuse [AFP]

Date of publication: 11 February, 2016

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An Israeli labour court on Wednesday ruled in favour of a former housekeeper at the Prime Minister Netanyahu residence who accused Sara Netanyahu of abuse and mistreatment.

An Israeli court convicted Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's wife on Wednesday for abusing a former member of her housekeeping staff.

The court found "an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the [Netanyahu] residence due to the behavior of Mrs. Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers".

The judge wrote in her ruling that Sara Netanyahu engaged in "irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage".

The Jerusalem labour court awarded the former employee, Meni Naftali, $42,000 in damages and court fees.

The Netanyahus have been widely criticised in Israel for leading a lavish lifestyle and Sara Netanyahu has faced accusations of abusive behavior toward household staff going back to the 1990s.

At a press conference, Naftali thanked his supporters and said, "I am sure there will be more suits" against the prime minister's wife.

Talking about Sara Netanyahu's behaviour, Naftali said in one instance she called him at 3am to complain that he had bought milk in a plastic storage bag instead of a carton.

In another case, he says she threw a vase of day-old flowers on the floor, scolding him that they were not fresh enough.

In 2010, a former housekeeper accused her of using abusive language and forcing her to shower several times a day to ensure a "sterile" environment.

Naftali has also claimed that Sara Netanyahu derided his ethnicity when he ordered food for them in a hotel, implying that his Middle Eastern background was somehow uncouth.

Netanyahu's office had no immediate comment. It had previously rejected Naftali's allegations, calling them "outrageous".

Sara Netanyahu has attracted criticism since her husband's first term as prime minister in the late 1990s for allegedly squabbling with her staff and meddling in state affairs.

Among other things, she was accused of firing a nanny for burning a pot of soup and of throwing a pair of shoes at an assistant.

Since her husband returned to office in 2009, she has kept a lower profile, though she has been unable to avoid the spotlight entirely.

In 2010, a former housekeeper accused her of using abusive language and forcing her to shower several times a day to ensure a "sterile" environment.

Last week, former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert admitted to obstructing justice in a series of graft-linked trials.

Olmert faces an 18-month jail sentence beginning on February 15 after being convicted of bribery, in addition to separate jail time for corruption and fraud.

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