Netanyahu to Reporters: Aim Your Fire at Me, Not My Wife

BERLIN - Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu asked the media yesterday to "aim their fire" at him and leave his wife and children alone.

When asked by reporters about a lawsuit by a former domestic employee who accused his wife, Sara, of mistreating her, Netanyahu responded, "You don't put the wife and children in the line of fire."

He was speaking at a joint news conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel in Berlin.

"Leave my wife and children alone," Netanyahu added, replying to a question from an Israeli reporter on the case, first made public on Friday by Israel's largest daily, Yedioth Ahronoth. His aides have vehemently denied the allegations against Sara Netanyahu.

"When a man enters public life, he expects attacks against him," the prime minister continued. "But I think he may also expect limits to those attacks."

He said he had no doubt "the truth behind this slander will come out soon."

Netanyahu stressed that his wife does not intervene in state affairs. "It's totally absurd to say that. There is one field in which she does exert influence. She tells me: Be more attentive to others; be attentive to the needs of the elderly, children and Holocaust survivors. She tells me to be a better father, a better son, a better friend."

Referring to his opponents, Netanyahu said, "I can only hope they show minimal decency. Aim the fire at me; leave my wife and children alone."

After Netanyahu was elected prime minister, Lillian Peretz, the couple's household help, transferred to a personnel agency. Peretz, who filed the suit against Sara Netanyahu in the Tel Aviv Labor Court, attached pay slips from the agency showing that her wages and benefits there were considerably better than they were when she worked for the Netanyahus.

The 30 pay slips Peretz received from the Netanyahus, which she also attached to the suit, show that her basic monthly wage ranged from NIS 2,550 to NIS 3,060. A sum of NIS 50 to NIS 60 was deducted for national insurance. She was not paid for transportation, overtime or working on the Sabbath.

The agency paid her a basic wage of NIS 5,000, well above the minimum wage of NIS 3,850. To this, it added payment for overtime, transportation, and working on weekends.

Peretz also gave the court the personal contract drawn up between herself and Netanyahu after Peretz told the family she wanted to quit. The agreement, which only Peretz signed, required her to confirm that as of the day it was signed, she had been paid in full, including all mandatory benefits, and had no further claims on the Netanyahus.

The contract stipulated that since Peretz worked in a "position of trust," the Labor and Rest Law would not apply, meaning she would not be entitled to overtime or extra pay for working on holidays.