PM's Office Denies Claims That Sara Netanyahu Abused Housekeeper

Former maid seeks NIS 300,000 compensation for alleged unpaid wages and severance pay.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's office has denied allegations filed against the premier's wife by a former housekeeper who says Sara Netanyahu treated her unfairly when she worked at the couple's Caesarea home.

The suit, filed last week by Lillian Peretz, 43, seeks NIS 300,000 in compensation including alleged unpaid wages and severance pay. Peretz also claims that social benefits were not paid on her net salary, which ranged between NIS 2,500 and NIS 3,800 per month.

Peretz's lawsuit states that Mrs. Netanyahu "like in the story of Cinderella, burdened [Peretz] with impossible tasks ... and screamed at her." The complaint also says that from the time Netanyahu was elected prime minister, Peretz was forbidden to call Mrs. Netanyahu by her first name.

The complaint says Mrs. Netanyahu demanded that the housekeeper return to the couple's home on the eve of Passover to do the family's laundry, and Mrs. Netanyahu refused to pay additional compensation. She allegedly said that "it was an honor to work for the Netanyahu family."

The suit also alleges that Peretz was barred from using the house's water cooler and had to bring food from home. She was also prohibited from wearing makeup so that it would not soil Mrs. Netanyahu's linens and clothing, the suit says.

It alleges that the housekeeper was brought to tears almost every day. Peretz said that when she tried to quit, senior political figures dissuaded her and made her sign a commitment to pay a $50,000 fine if she violated the deal.

Prime Minister Netanyahu's office, in denying the claims, cited Peretz's September 2008 resignation letter in which she said she was quitting "with a lot of love and appreciation."

The Prime Minister's Bureau said the Web site Ynet quoted Peretz as saying in the presence of one of the Netanyahus that "I'm crazy about Sara. I don't have girlfriends and she is a friend, mother and helper. She is everything to me. She is an amazing person."