President Shimon Peres criticized Wednesday what he called excessive coverage of a lawsuit filed against the wife of Benjamin Netanyahu, saying it was preventing the prime minister from concentrating on affairs of state.

Netanyahu was right to ask reporters to make a distinction between his private life and his public life, Israel Radio quoted Peres as saying.

Netanyahu's wife, Sara, is being sued by a former employee, Lillian Peretz, who claims she was "abused," "humiliated" and "exploited." Peretz is demanding NIS 300,000 in compensation.

Netanyahu's office has termed Peretz's claims "lies and slander" and the prime minister himself, asked about the issue during a news conference in Berlin on Monday, requested that reporters leave his wife and children "out of the line of fire."

One commentator even suggested that Peretz's story - which is yet to be proven true in court - indicated that Netanyahu was unfit to lead the country.

Sara Netanyahu, a psychologist and former flight attendant, is the prime minster's third wife. Until the Peretz allegations surfaced, she kept a relatively low profile during the premier's second term in office, which began in March last year.