(photo credit: ZIV KOREN)
One day after the state tried to zigzag around an earlier court order, the Jerusalem Labor Court blasted the move with a second order demanding that Sara Netanyahu file an affidavit before Election Day as part of her defense against accusations by former manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence Meni Naftali of laborlaw violations.
Judge Dita Pruginin, president of the court, in a surprisingly speedy manner, issued the order and decision in an unusually angrily worded response to the Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office Civil Division’s request and filing of nine affidavits from state employees defending the conduct of the Netanyahu family and slamming Naftali for disparaging Sara Netanyahu and other employees.
Pruginin wrote, “Court orders are not a recommendation,” meaning they must be complied with, and the state had no excuse for attempting not to comply.
The Jerusalem District Attorney’s Office Civil Division on Tuesday filed nine affidavits from state employees defending the conduct of the Netanyahu family and criticizing Naftali for slamming Sara Netanyahu and other employees.
Sara Netanyahu did not file an affidavit, despite the court having ordering her to provide an affidavit over the state’s earlier objection in December.
The state, representing the Netanyahus, noted that the court had ordered only submissions of any affidavits that would be filed in the case and that she was prepared to testify, if so ordered.
Aside from the substantive arguments, the failure of the prime minister’s wife to file an affidavit seemed designed to avoid her having to submit an affidavit or testify before Tuesday’s election.
Often such tactical maneuvers work and courts move too slow to cure such a procedural defect, sometimes taking weeks to issue an order due to their busy caseload.
But Pruginin took offense that the state had insulted her judicial office, remarking that procedural issues, such as if and when affidavits were required, are overwhelmingly a core court power and cannot be brushed off, especially when the court previously rejected similar state objections.
Attorney-General Yehuda Weinstein on February 26 ordered a criminal investigation, separate from Naftali’s civil claim, into the allegations surrounding the Prime Minister’s Residence. Naftali was house manager from February 2011 to November 2012.
Weinstein exempted the prime minister from criminal suspicion at this stage.
In his affidavit filed on Tuesday, Ezra Seidoff, deputy director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office, rejected Naftali’s claims that Sara Netanyahu abused him and discriminated against him on a racial basis, noting: “I did not witness any racism or racist statements.”
Ofra Shimon, a former subordinate of Naftali at the residence, described him as a violent, abusive boss who punched and pushed his employees and was disrespectful toward Sara Netanyahu, going out of his way to enrage and irritate her.
Shimon said Naftali would go out of his way to avoid doing tasks assigned by Mrs.
Netanyahu and that he would ignore the couple when they tried to contact him on the house’s intercom.
She related an anecdote in which Naftali allegedly poured water on the floor of a hallway in the house and said, “I hope she [Mrs. Netanyahu] slips and falls.”
Ran Yishai, the Prime Minister’s Office deputy director-general for human resources, said in his affidavit that at no time did Naftali express to him any of the complaints he later issued against the Netanyahus. He said that in the time Naftali worked at the residence, he never heard any complaint from him about Sara Netanyahu and how she treated him or the other employees.
Naomi Mann, the head of human resources at the residence, said in her affidavit that Naftali received all compensation he was owed for his work. She said some of the employees mentioned in Naftali’s complaint did not work at the residence during the period he did, while others were there only on a temporary basis.
One of Naftali’s attorneys, Ofer Almog, said they had seen the allegations, but preferred not to respond.