Menny Naftali, the former caretaker at Israeli Prime Minister's Residence has been awarded damages for mistreatment while working at the official residence, with Benjamin Netanyahu's wife, Sara being singled out for her behaviour towards the staff. In handing over damages of $43,707 (£30,221, €38,666), the Jerusalem Labour Court also ruled that he had been misled over his terms of employment at the residence.
Naftali had sued the state, the Netanyahus, and the deputy director of the Prime Minister's Office for $257,165 (£177,784, €227,446). He and another maintenance worker Guy Eliyahu, had made complaints ranging from verbal abuse and irrational demands by the prime minister's wife.
He claimed that on one occasion, she had called him at 3am to berate him for buying milk in a bag rather than a carton. In another incident, she demanded that he clear and reset a table that had already been prepared for a meal outside the residence because someone had opened an electric awning above, sending some dust down.
He also claimed that Mrs Netanyahu had thrown a vase of day-old flowers on the floor, scolding him that they were not fresh enough. He was also asked to do chores at all hours of the day, the Times of Israel reports.
In her ruling, the judge said: "Numerous testimonies presented to the court point to an atmosphere of harmful work conditions at the residence due to the behaviour of Mrs Netanyahu and her attitude toward the workers. These included irrational demands, insults, humiliation and outbursts of rage."
The Netanyahus had in turn countered that the caretaker had filed the lawsuit after he was not awarded full time work after being the temporary caretaker for two years at the residence. Mrs Netanyahu also claimed that Naftali was seeking to extort money and that he had "threatened and blackmailed" the Prime Minister's Office.
The court ruling on 10 February however said that Mrs Netanyahu's claims were not based on fact and added that "it is regrettable that Mrs Netanyahu chose to discredit so severely a former employee of the Prime Minister's Residence."
The Prime Minister's Office in a statement said that the "picture drawn" by the court's ruling was "far from the reality" in the residence. "It is regrettable that even though the court rejected 90% of Menny Naftali's monetary claims, the court elected to devote a significant portion of its ruling to Mrs Netanyahu who was not a party in the case."
Mrs Netanyahu has come under public scrutiny after she was questioned by police for allegedly using public money for personal use. The investigation follows a State Comptroller's report that accused her of splurging state funds on lawn furniture and maintenance work on their private villa. She has denied the charges.