Meni Naftali, Ex-worker at PM’s Residence, Files Appeal Despite Winning Suit

Naftali is seeking permanent reinstatement to the civil service and a finding that he was defamed by the prime minister.

Emil Salman

The former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s residence has appealed last month’s decision in which he was awarded 170,000 shekels ($43,900) in a civil defamation suit against the Prime Minister’s Office.

In his appeal to the National Labor Court, Meni Naftali is seeking permanent reinstatement to the civil service and a finding that he was defamed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. He claims he was defamed due to statements made in the media by Netanyahu.

In her initial decision on February 10, Jerusalem District Labor Court Judge Dita Pruginin accepted Naftali’s claim that he had been subjected to intolerable employment conditions while working at the prime minister’s official residence and was entitled to damages.

Moti Milrod

In recent weeks, both the state and Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, have filed their own appeals against the lower court ruling, although she is not a formal party to the case.

Naftali’s defamation claim is based on alleged media statements by the prime minister that characterized the former caretaker as “an embittered employee who is trying to extract money from the state.” Judge Pruginin had found no basis for defamation in Netanyahu’s comments, saying they were within the realm of protected freedom of expression.

Naftali’s lawyer, Neomi Landau, said her client is “determined to stand up for his rights until the end, and is 100 percent confident he is right.”

Sara Netanyahu’s appeal says she was unable to present her own version of events to the labor court, and that erroneous conclusions were made about her conduct.

In its own appeal, the state is appealing against what it says are legal errors in the lower court’s decision. However, it does not challenge the court’s judgment regarding the conduct of Sara Netanyahu in the affair.