Ex-caretaker at Prime Minister's Residence: Sara Netanyahu Drank Shocking Amounts of Alcohol

During cross-examination in his lawsuit against the Netanyahus, Meni Naftali grilled over allegations of violent behavior, funding.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
Meni Naftali in court, March 25, 2015.
Meni Naftali in court, March 25, 2015.Credit: Olivier Fittousi
Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The cross-examination stage of the trial of a civil suit that Meni Naftali, the former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, began Wednesday at the regional labor court in Jerusalem.

Naftali is suing Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, and the state for a million shekels ($250,000) over allegations of Sara Netanyahu’s allegedly abusive treatment. In the course of his testimony Wednesday, Naftali alleged, among other things, that Sara Netanyahu excessively drank alcohol, claiming that she drank three bottles of champagne a day.

The trial proceeds after the parties refused a settlement proposed by court president Dita Pruginin. Judge Pruginin had granted the state’s request to defer the trial until after last week’s Knesset election, but she required that affidavits in the case still be submitted as originally scheduled before the election.

As the trial opened, the lawyer representing the Prime Minister’s Office, Cochavit Dolev-Netzach of the state prosecutor’s office, challenged Naftali and asked who was funding his case. She also confronted Naftali with allegations that he had been violent in his dealings at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The proceedings are expected to last several hours on Wednesday. The first witness was Naftali himself, who on cross-examination was asked about allegations made by staff of the Prime Minister’s Residence that he had exhibited violent behavior. Naftali denied the allegations.

Dolev-Netzach also questioned Naftali about allegations of misconduct during his army service in the Israel Defense Force operation in Gaza in late 2008 and early 2009, Operation Cast Lead, in which it was said that Naftali had engaged in vandalism, shooting at rooftop water tanks. Naftali vehemently denied the allegations and the judge asked that the line of questioning be halted.

Cross-examination will include questioning of witnesses who submitted affidavits in the case, including Sara Netanyahu and Ezra Saidoff, the deputy director general of the Prime Minister’s Office. Two former employees of the Prime Minister’s Residence, Guy Eliyahu and Emmanuel Sela, are expected to appear as witnesses on Naftali’s behalf.

In his complaint in the case, Naftali put forth a string of allegations about offensive conduct directed at him by members of the Netanyahu family. He worked day and night, the complaint states, attempting to satisfy the family, but his efforts were awarded with arrogant and degrading treatment “the height of which were the unrestrained tongue-lashings from the prime minister’s wife, Mrs. Sara Netanyahu, the vast majority of which were with the prime minister’s knowledge,” the complaint states.

Sara Netanyahu’s affidavit was filed last week after repeated efforts to avoid the submission, for which she was admonished by the court, failed. She denied that Naftali had been subject to offensive treatment, adding that the allegations were baseless and “designed solely to sully” her reputation.

In addition to providing a defense in Naftali’s case, the state prosecutor’s office has been directed to resume a criminal investigation into operations at the Prime Minister’s Residence, in part based on testimony from Naftali and documents that he provided.

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