Sara Netanyahu testifies for 3 hours in libel case, is heckled outside court
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Sara Netanyahu testifies for 3 hours in libel case, is heckled outside court

Premier’s wife summoned for hearing in lawsuit filed by ex-employee at PM’s official residence; claims she’s ‘most vilified person on Israeli media’; activists call her a ‘thief’

Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife, arrives to testify in the libel suit filed by Menny Naftali, the former manager of the Prime Minister's Residence, at the Herzliya Magistrate's Court on December 2, 2019. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister's wife, arrives to testify in the libel suit filed by Menny Naftali, the former manager of the Prime Minister's Residence, at the Herzliya Magistrate's Court on December 2, 2019. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s wife, Sara, testified Monday for more than three hours in a libel lawsuit filed by a former employee at the Prime Minister’s Residence against associates of the premier, and claimed she was the “most vilified person on Israeli media.”

The civil suit was filed in 2015 by Menny Naftali, the former caretaker at the residence, who in a separate 2017 case successfully sued Sara Netanyahu for verbal and emotional abuse.

Netanyahu was summoned to give testimony at the request of Nir Hefetz, a defendant in the case, who at the time was a close associate of the premier but has since become a state witness against him in three corruption cases.

After her court appearance, Naftali’s lawyers agreed to remove Hefetz from the list of defendants.

As she arrived at the Herzliya Magistrate’s Court, Netanyahu was heckled by activists who called her a “thief.”

“When I came in there were insults and bullying,” she said during her testimony. “I have been going through that for five years.”

Menny Naftali, the former manager of the Prime Minister’s Residence, arrives at the Herzliya Magistrate’s Court for a discussion of his libel suit against associates of the prime minister, December 2, 2019. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

In June, she was convicted of misusing public funds as part of a plea deal in a case involving allegations she illegally procured and then misreported catering services at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

The agreement saw her escape a conviction of aggravated fraud, but confess to a lesser charge of taking advantage of a mistake. She was ordered to pay NIS 55,000 ($15,210) to the state — NIS 10,000 as a fine, and the rest as restitution.

During her Monday testimony, Netanyahu claimed she had only signed the deal to avoid a prolonged trial and “to save the country from three years of agony and expenses and madness.”

Regarding the present case, she said that “for five years, Menny Naftali has been spilling my blood and the blood of my family members [in the media] and I haven’t reacted or given interviews.”

She alleged that the lawsuit was frivolous and that Naftali “sues left and right.” Throughout the long testimony, she repeatedly held him responsible for the increase in the Prime Minister’s Residence’s expenses during the relevant years.

Separately, Benjamin Netanyahu faces charges in three separate corruption cases, including bribery in one of them. He denies any wrongdoing.

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