Two former Israeli prime ministers face off in court in Tel Aviv
Israel–In Tel Aviv, two former Israeli prime ministers squared off in court, with Benjamin Netanyahu and his family suing Ehud Olmert for slander. Mr Netanyahu, his wife Sara, and their oldest son Yair are suing Mr Olmert for $269,000 (£198,000) in damages, alleging that he falsely claimed that they were mentally sick.
Last April, Mr. Olmert repeated the assertion in two Israeli television interviews. He claims it was not libellous since it was truthful and he was obviously expressing an opinion. Mr Olmert is accused by the Netanyahu of “obsessive efforts to tarnish their good name in public, out of jealously and intense irritation,” according to the lawsuit. It’s based on two interviews he gave after Israel’s previous general election, when Mr Netanyahu was fighting to keep his job while facing corruption allegations.
Mr. Olmert said to DemocraTV in the first interview: “What can’t be cured is the prime minister’s mental ailment, as well as that of his wife and kid. That is unfixable.” He refused to recant the allegation in the second interview, with Channel 12, and chuckled when told he would be sued. Judge Amit Yariv questioned Mr. Olmert what he was basing his views on during Monday’s session.
According to the Times of Israel, he said, “I observed their behavior, I listened to the family’s records, I spoke with specialists and others who are linked with them and know them well.” “They detailed to me what is commonly regarded as deviant, insane behavior.” ” A former prime minister who, by the way, does not have a clean record – considers one of the finest Israeli families mentally ill?” said the Netanyahus’ lawyer, Yossi Cohen. “In another nation, Olmert would have been arrested,” he said, prompting the judge to retort, “Thank God we don’t live in that country.”
Mr Olmert should “explain for the record that his words were an opinion, and that he does not know if they are true or not,” according to Judge Yariv. The court told him that if he continued to argue that they were real, he would be required to meet a greater standard of evidence. The court said it was “unfortunate that a sensitive issue like mental illness is being seized and made into a circus” in remarks addressed at both parties. The hearing has been postponed till a later date.
Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert was the first to be imprisoned. After being charged with corruption, he resigned as the leader of his party in 2008, but remained Prime Minister until the following year’s elections, which brought Mr Netanyahu to office. In 2014, Mr Olmert was found guilty of bribery, fraud, breach of trust, and obstructing justice after a series of trials, but he didn’t start serving his 27-month sentence until two years later.
Mr Netanyahu’s 12-year reign came to an end in June of last year, when opposition parties banded together to depose him and create a government led by Naftali Bennett. While facing allegations of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, he had refused to resign. He is adamant in his denial of any wrongdoing.