Meni Naftali, the former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s official residence, has denied claims of sexual harassment against a female employee at the house.
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Naftali is already in the news for being the caretaker during a period of increased spending at the residence under Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Naftali has testified about instances in which the Netanyahu family allegedly charged private expenditures to the state.
In any case, Naftali denies the sexual-harassment claim, which was reported last week by Channel 2 television.
“It never happened,” Naftali told Army Radio on Wednesday. “Would I touch a 50-year-old woman? Me, who looks good? ... I’m not embarrassed to say it: I don’t need to sexually harass a woman.”
Naftali has also launched a campaign on the Israel crowdfunding site Headstart to raise money to fund a lawsuit against the Netanyahus for violating his rights as an employee.
“Over this past year, the hardest of my life, I have been dealing with very big and strong forces, the strongest in Israel, who are trying with all their might to prevent me from completely receiving my rights as an employee. I decided today to do something,” Naftali writes on the campaign’s page.
“Who knows, maybe because of the public debate my case has created, I will contribute to the change in organizational culture at many workplaces where employers treat their employees as slaves. To do so, I am calling on all of you to help me in my war, which for a long time has been not only mine, against Israel’s No. 1 employer.”
A year ago, Naftali filed a lawsuit worth hundreds of thousands of shekels against Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, deputy director general of operations at the Prime Minister’s Office. Naftali claimed that his rights as an employee had been violated and that he had been treated in a humiliating way.
Last month Naftali filed a 500,000-shekel ($123,000) suit against the Likud party and Netanyahu associates for allegedly slandering him. The suit names Netanyahu’s media adviser and Likud’s election campaign manager, Nir Hefetz, attorneys of Netanyahu, the purchasing manager at the Prime Minister’s Office, and a cleaner/cook at the residence.
In the suit, Naftali says Netanyahu’s wife Sara wanted to invite the chef Shalom Kadosh to cook at the residence but the expense exceeded the budget. According to the suit, Mrs. Netanyahu reported a higher number of guests than were actually invited to inflate the permitted budget.
Naftali also says advisers and aides to Netanyahu conspired to make him the scapegoat for the inflated expenses at the residence described in a state comptroller report.
“I admit that I’m not sure I can continue for much longer with my own resources,” Naftali writes on his Headstart page. “The legal and accompanying costs are very high .... I am asking for your support, the support of the broader public. I have no doubt that I will win all the legal proceedings, and the public debate that started a year ago will lead to real change.”