Trial in case against Sara Netanyahu kicks off

Lillian Peretz claims PM's wife paid her less than minimum wage, abused her; Netanyahu countersuing for defamation.

SARA NETANYAHU meets with four-year-old Ofek Castillo311 (photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
SARA NETANYAHU meets with four-year-old Ofek Castillo311
(photo credit: Avi Ohayon/GPO)
Under cross-examination in the Haifa District Labor Court on Monday, Sara Netanyahu’s former housekeeper Lillian Peretz said the prime minister’s wife had “high standards” and had required her to work long hours including on Saturdays.
Peretz, who filed the lawsuit against the prime minister’s wife two years ago, has claimed Netanyahu refused to pay her various social benefits required under law, paid her less than minimum wage, and made her work long hours including on Saturdays, even though Peretz is Shabbat-observant.
Netanyahu has denied the allegations, and says they are slander. In response to Peretz’s lawsuit, the prime minister’s wife has filed a counter-suit, demanding that Peretz pay her NIS 600,000 compensation for defamation, invasion of privacy and breach of confidentiality.
During the cross-examination by Netanyahu’s lawyer David Shomron on Monday, Peretz said she had worked on Saturdays.
The former housekeeper said the Netanyahus would come to the house in Caesarea every Saturday but on two occasions they decided not to come and instead had asked her to pack food for them to be driven to Jerusalem.
Peretz said that she loved Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his children and broke Shabbat for them.
“I worked every Saturday, including on those Saturdays that [the Netanyahus] decided to stay until Sunday,” she said.
Shomron asked Peretz whether she was in fact asked to work on Saturday evenings after sunset, after Shabbat had ended, and only for around an hour and a half to package up food for the next day.
In response, Peretz said there was only one Saturday that she told Netanyahu she could not work, because she had a conflict with her husband and could not leave her children that day.
Netanyahu’s former housekeeper said the prime minister’s wife had “high standards” that were hard to meet.
“Nobody could meet her standards,” Peretz said.
“When she was on holiday and I was in the supermarket, they would tell me to come and meet people who were supposed to come to the house, like technicians, I had to change my clothes all the time.”
Peretz added that there were frequently building contractors in the house and that she was “always busy wrapping stuff in plastic.”
The former housekeeper also told the court that Netanyahu asked her to cook at her own house.
“When I don’t cook at her house, the Picasso doesn’t smell the frying, but at my house my Baba Sali smells it,” Peretz said, presumably referring to and comparing pictures by the famous Spanish artist Pablo Picasso and of the Moroccan Sephardi rabbi and Kabbala practitioner, Rabbi Yisrael Abuhatzeira, popularly known as the Baba Sali.
The former housekeeper also said she had to ask the Netanyahus for permission to go on vacation.
When asked why she did not quit her job, if the conditions were as bad as she claimed, Peretz said that she was pressured not to leave.
Peretz also claimed that the family’s lawyer, attorney Michael Rabello, also convinced her not to leave.
Netanyahu’s former chief of staff, Natan Eshel, also testified at Monday’s hearing, and said the Netanyahus had only stayed in Caesarea at most one Saturday per month.
The lawsuit will continue on July 17.