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PM’s wife accused of maltreating a Nepali caretaker

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Foreign worker from Nepal says PM's wife didn't feed her, cursed at her and didn't give her vacation time; PMO issues strong denial.

The Prime Minister’s Office issued a strong denial Tuesday night of media reports that Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, mistreated a foreign worker hired as a caretaker for her elderly father, in what has become almost a ritual of periodic media reports of Netanyahu’s alleged bad behavior, followed by PMO charges that the press is out to get her, and the Netanyahu family.

This time the story involves a foreign worker from Nepal, identified only as “T,” employed by the Netanyahus to look after Sara’s 96-year-old father, Shmuel Ben-Artzi, who was recently released from Hadassah University Hospital’s intensive care unit, and has been living for the past several weeks with the Netanyahus in the prime minister’s house.

According to a Channel 2 report, Sara suspected “T” of neglect and stealing money from her father. The report said that a fierce argument broke out between the two, during which “T” fell and hurt her hand on a table, after which a doctor was called.

“T,” who has been with Ben- Artzi for more than two years, charged in the Channel 2 report that Netanyahu didn’t feed her, cursed at her and didn’t give her vacation time. She has reportedly hired a lawyer.

The Prime Minister’s Office quickly issued a response saying the true story was “completely opposite” of what was reported.

According to the statement, the complaints registered by the worker were without foundation, and made only after it became known to her that the agency employing her was asked to find a replacement because she was negligent in her treatment of Ben-Artzi for a number of months.

“When it became known to her that she was about to be fired – something that could lead to her being deported from the country – she made up the story, and now there is a cynical and unworthy campaign against the Netanyahu family,” the statement said.

“Enough already of automatically throwing slime at the Netanyahu family,” the statement said. “Leave Mrs. Netanyahu alone to deal with her 96-year-old father, suffering from a severe illness who was just released from intensive care.”

The statement continued to state that the Netanyahu family “also has the right to replace negligent workers who are not giving the necessary treatment to their elderly parents.”

Meanwhile, the Hotline for Migrant Workers and Physicians for Human Rights issued a statement on Tuesday saying they had received a complaint that “raised serious suspicions about the work conditions of “T,” a migrant worker who lived in the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and was employed as a caretaker for Sara Netanyahu’s father.”

The statement said the complaint alleged “T” was prevented from leaving the residence and was not paid severance pay “with the intention of ensuring that she would leave the country.

If this indeed turns out to be true, it would constitute the denial of the freedom of a worker and the exploitation of the worker’s weakness in order to exert pressure upon the worker.

“We are certain that this complaint will be examined by the relevant trustworthy bodies, and that the investigation will be carried out in an unbiased fashion.”

In January 2010, Netanyahu filed a lawsuit against Maariv seeking damages for a story the paper published alleging her of firing an elderly man who used to work as a gardener at the Prime Minister’s Residence.

That same month, a former cleaning lady named Lillian Peretz, filed suit against Netanyahu for alleged mistreatment and underpayment.

Ben Hartman contributed to this report.

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