Ex-worker Allegedly Harassed After Claiming Sara Netanyahu Treated Her 'Like a Slave'

Former cleaner at Prime Minister's Residence claims to have been repeatedly harassed since filing complaint against Benjamin Netanyahu's wife

Sara Netanyahu, the wife of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, May 21, 2017
Abir Sultan/AP

A former worker in the Prime Minister's Residence filed a complaint Sunday to Jerusalem police regarding harassment and threats against her and her family. The worker, a 24-year-old ultra-Orthodox woman previously employed as a cleaner in the resident, and last week filed a lawsuit against Sara Netanyahu for 225,000 shekels ($63,600), claiming she had been continuously abused.

On Sunday morning, the complainant arrived at Israel Police headquarters to file a complaint regarding threats she has received over the past days since filing the lawsuit against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife. In her statement, which she gave over 10 hours, the worker said that harassers had rung her doorbell, as well as her parents' doorbell. She also said that strangers had shown up on her doorstep, which made her feel threatened.

Israel Police commented that "in order to be specific, we will clarify that the worker made a request through her lawyer to arrive and file a complaint. Upon completing her statement, the complaint will be passed to those undertaking the investigation who will be responsible for making a decision on how to proceed, after consult with the prosecutor."

The worker filed the lawsuit against the prime minister's wife in the Jerusalem District Labor Court last week, claiming that Netanyahu degraded her, was abusive and tried to hit her. "The complainant suffered from terrible, inhumane work conditions, in a hostile environment that threatened her, in unimaginable suffering," said the lawsuit.

The lawsuit also says that Yair Netanyahu would inspect how clean the house was, in one instance climbing to a spot unreachable without a ladder, touching his finger on the surface and saying: "Mom, come look, they didn't clean here."

The worker described Sara Netanyahu's attitude from the beginning to the end of her time working at the residence. According to the prosecution, Netanyahu told the worker in the initial interview that she was "very, very busy" and for that reason needed quick workers. Netanyahu added that she "didn't like when they walk, I like when they run" and that this is why she "doesn't hire fat women." Netanyahu further specified that the worker would be paired with a partner, but they would be forbidden from speaking. According to the prosecutor, Netanyahu made it clear that the workers were not to take sick leave or vacations.

Meanwhile, it emerged over the weekend that the media adviser to the attorneys of the former cleaner approached a cleaner currently employed in the prime minister’s residence who might testify at a hearing on in the matter, and offered her a job as a CEO’s assistant, Channel 2 reported on Sunday night. 

The adviser, Arik Rosenthal, sent the following message by WhatsApp to the cleaner: “My name is Arik. We don’t know each other, I received your phone number from mutual acquaintances. I am the CEO of a company in the media fieldI understand you’re looking for a job. I want to offer you a job in our company.” Rosenthal wrote: “We’re looking for a few positions, one of which is personal assistant to the CEO.”

Individuals close to the Netanyahu family said the offer of a job “was just the tip of the iceberg of the contemptible methods used by the Meni Naftali bunch, their attorneys and their PR people,” they said, referring to the former caretaker at the prime minister’s Jerusalem residence who was awarded damages from the labor court over claims of verbal and emotional abuse by Sara Netanyahu.

“But the public is smart and realizes that these are false claims and unacceptable methods whose purpose is to defame Sara Netanyahu and hurt the prime minister,” the sources close to the Netanyahu family said. “There is no end to the persecution and character assassination; proof of this is the attempt by their PR person to enlist a worker at the prime minister’s residence by tempting and baseless job offers. A person who offers a job like that in a text message to a person he has never met who is coincidentally a key witness? The whole conspiracy is revealed in this message.” 

Rosenthal responded:

“I have proof and testimony that the employment of Ms. L.K., the worker at the prime minister’s residence, is intolerably insulting and harsh. Evidence I have indicates that N.K. asked to quit her job in the past but apparently she was pressured into not doing so.

"Although I am not a psychiatrist, the matters that were presented to me are a cause for real concern over L.K.’s mental health. Someone must help her. The police should go into the prime minister’s residence and check what is going on there, and the sooner the better. I did indeed approach L.K. last night in an effort to help her, out of real concern for her well-being and as part of my obligation as a citizen to offer help to others. I suggest to the Netanyahu family’s entire talented team to do some deep soul-searching, look in the mirror and try to explain to themselves how they are willing to lend a hand to such serious harm to workers."