Page last updated at 16:00 GMT, Friday, 15 January 2010

Housekeeper sues Israel PM Netanyahu's wife

Sarah and Benjamin Netanyahu
Sarah Netanyahu is the prime minister's third wife

A woman who worked as a housekeeper for Israel's first family has filed a lawsuit against Sarah, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's wife.

The 44-year-old woman, named as Lillian claims her former employee paid her less than the minimum wage and forced her to work on the Sabbath.

Lillian worked for the Netanyahus for six years in their home in Caesarea, northern Israel.

Sarah Netanyahu has yet to publicly comment on the case.

"Sarah Netanyahu abused me, paid me less than minimum wage, didn't pay my social benefits, forced me to work Saturdays even though I observe Shabbat [the Jewish rest day]," the former housekeeper was quoted as writing in the suit filed at the Tel Aviv labour court.

The BBC spoke to Asaf Saraf, the lawyer representing Lillian, who confirmed details of the case reported in the Israeli newspaper Yediot Ahranot.

Mr Saraf described the relationship with Mrs Netanyahu being characterised by "humiliation and a hostile atmosphere".

The former employee has alleged she was forced to wear four sets of work clothes in one day for different household tasks.

Lillian is seeking about US $80,000 in compensation from the Netanyahu family, reports said.

Sarah Netanyahu is a former air-hostess and the prime minister's third wife. Mrs Netanyahu came under fire in the Israeli media in the late 1990's, when her husband was last in power, over allegations that she mistreated domestic staff.

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