Sara Netanyahu was absent from the court hearing held on Monday to present evidence in her defense against Shira Raban, a former Prime Minister’s Residence employee who is accusing the prime minister’s wife of misconduct and bullying.
Netanyahu’s attorney, Yossi Cohen, apologized in Netanyahu’s name during the hearing at the Jerusalem Regional Labor Court. He explained that the defense had summoned three witnesses to testify on Monday.
“My estimate had been that we would not have time to interrogate all three witnesses,” he said, so therefore, he “did not prepare Mrs. Netanyahu for today.”
The judge, Eyal Avrahami, pushed back against Cohen’s excuse.
“Mrs. Netanyahu is a defendant and was supposed to testify first, and there is no reason for her not to be here,” Avrahami said. “We spoke about her testifying and she will testify first. It is indeed regrettable that no witnesses came, in particular [Netanyahu], who is the litigant... This matter will be taken into account when considering the court fees, and a decision will be made later.”
Netanyahu later released a statement claiming that Cohen told her explicitly that she did not need to come to Monday’s hearing and only had to attend the subsequent one.
The witnesses who took the stand at the trial on Monday were new to the case, according to Channel 13, causing those that had attended the hearing to claim that a criminal indictment should be filed against Netanyahu.
Cohen later requested to summon Shlomit Barnea Farago, attorney-general for the Prime Minister’s Office, claiming that she is behind the complaints of Netanyahu’s alleged misconduct toward her employees.
Furthermore, the State Attorney’s Office is investigating the involvement of the Prime Minister’s Residence housekeeper, Efi Azulai. He, like his boss, was accused of bullying staff.
In a letter by Barnea Farago that listed several complaints against Netanyahu, Azulai was mentioned for having told one of the employees that he would fire her due to her misconduct.
The decision to investigate Azulai was passed by the Prosecutor’s Office to the Jerusalem Regional Court of Labor as part of the lawsuit filed by Raban against Netanyahu, Moriah Cleaning Services, and the Prime Minister’s Office.
Raban, an ultra-Orthodox mother of three, filed the lawsuit two years ago. She worked at the residence in September 2017, including 13 days in which she served Netanyahu closely. She is suing for NIS 225,000.
In the affidavit that Raban filed to the court through attorney Naomi Landau, she explained Netanyahu’s unrealistic demands for cleanliness, claiming that she was prohibited from eating, relieving herself or taking breaks while working, and was even required to wash her hands in hot water, dry them on separate marked towels for the “maids,” and bring extra clothes to change into several times throughout the day.
Landau told Radio 103FM that Cohen “tried to convince the judge that he [Cohen] is the one who sets the order of witnesses in a civil hearing, he is the one who decides whether or not to come and determines the schedule. He ‘accidentally’ told [Netanyahu] not to come.”
She concluded by stating that Netanyahu “is not worthy of employing workers.”
The hearing on Monday closed quickly due to Netanyahu’s lack of attendance, and is expected to resume in the coming days.