Netanyahu, Olmert Face Off in Court in Defamation Suit

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert arrives for a court hearing on the lawsuit of the Netanyahu family against him, at the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court on Monday. (Avshalom Sassoni/POOL)

Two former prime ministers faced off in a Tel Aviv courtroom as Binyamin Netanyahu’s defamation suit against Ehud Olmert got underway on Monday.

Netanyahu, his wife and son appeared in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court for the opening of their case against Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor as prime minister.

Netanyahu had threatened to sue Olmert for remarks he made last year, during the aftermath of the 2021 Israeli parliamentary elections and while Netanyahu refused to step down while on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

Olmert last April leveled criticism at Netanyahu and said that “what is irreparable is the mental illness of the Prime Minister, his wife and his son.”

For that remark the Netanyahus have sued Olmert, seeking nearly $270,000 in damages.

In his defense in court on Monday, Olmert claimed he had “followed [the Netanyahus’] expressions and their actions” as a justification for his claim.

“I also listened to the recordings of the family members. I consulted with experts and their associates about behaviors that definitely went into the definition of what is popularly called crazy and abnormal behavior,” he added.

Olmert preceded Netanyahu as prime minister, but resigned in 2008 before he was formally indicted on corruption charges.

Olmert was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served most of a 27-month prison sentence.

As for Netanyahu, he is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes, but denies any wrongdoing. He was ousted from the prime minister’s office after a coalition of parties opposing him succeeded in forming a government without his once-dominant Likud party last June.

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