State Prosecution Backing Sara Netanyahu’s Petition to Appeal Verdict in Employee Abuse Cases

Prime minister’s wife asking High Court to allow her to appeal verdicts in suits by two former workers at official residence

Sara Netanyahu attending Tel Aviv Magistrate's Court in March 2014, for the libel case the Netanyahus filed (and won) against journalist Igal Sarna.
Moti Milrod

The state prosecution is supporting Sara Netanyahu’s petition to the High Court of Justice requesting that she be allowed to appeal the verdicts in the suits filed by Meni Naftali, the former chief caretaker of the prime minister’s residence in Jerusalem, and former residence employee Guy Eliyahu.

The prosecution’s argument makes a comparison between the employee abuse attributed to Netanyahu in the labor court verdicts and a sexual harassment case whose technicalities are similar.

In a response submitted to the High Court on Sunday, the prosecution – for the third time and using the same arguments – supported Netanyahu’s request to appeal the verdict handed down by then-Jerusalem Labor Court Judge Dita Pruginin (who has since retired).

In March, the National Labor Court rejected Netanyahu’s appeal of the decision by the court registrar not to allow her to appeal Pruginin’s rulings in her case.

Netanyahu wants Pruginin’s rulings voided, to return the cases to the regional labor court, and to allow her to bring witnesses and evidence in her favor.

During the original hearings, Netanyahu was not allowed to produce witnesses because both Naftali and Eliyahu were suing the state, their actual employer, and so she was technically not a party to the suit.

According to the prosecution, the case of Netanyahu, who was deemed responsible for creating intolerable employment conditions, is similar to that of Pelephone employee Aryeh Karko, in a case that was adjudicated in 2009-2010.

A female employee of the company sued her employer for alleged sexual harassment by Karko, and her claim was accepted. Karko himself was not prosecuted but was not allowed to refute the allegations made against him.

The National Labor Court accepted his request to appeal the determinations made about him, saying they embodied “serious allegations with serious criminal characteristics of sexual harassment, and of paying and staging false testimony,” without giving him a chance to defend himself.

Lawyer Nava Pinchuk-Alexander – who represents Naftali and Eliyahu together with fellow lawyer Neomi Landau – said this was “the second legal proceeding that [Sara] Netanyahu chooses to conduct without any legal basis, in bad faith and in an effort to appeal factual findings made by the labor court.”

According to Pinchuk-Alexander, Netanyahu’s petition should be expected to be rejected out of hand, because the High Court intervenes in National Labor Court decisions only in extreme cases, or when important principles are at stake.

Next month, the National Labor Court is expected to hear an appeal by the state, Naftali and Eliyahu of some aspects of the regional labor court’s decisions. Netanyahu is seeking an interim injunction until the High Court decides on her petition.