Two former Israeli prime ministers have faced off in an Israeli courtroom as Benjamin Netanyahu‘s defamation suit against Ehud Olmert got under way.
Netanyahu, his wife and son appeared in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court on Monday for the opening of their case against Olmert, Netanyahu’s predecessor as Israel’s 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.
In an interview with an Israeli news site last April, Olmert levelled criticism at Netanyahu and said “what is irreparable is the mental illness of the prime minister, his wife and his son.”
The Netanyahus sued Olmert seeking nearly $270,000 in damages, according to Hebrew press reports.
Netanyahu accused Olmert of compulsively trying to harm him, his family and their good name.
Olmert defended himself by saying he was only reflecting the views of the Israeli public and international leaders. As part of his defence, he is calling for a psychiatric examination of the Netanyahu family.
Israeli media have repeatedly reported on his wife’s Sara Netanyahu’s alleged violent outbursts of rage. She has been sued and also convicted of harassment by several former employees.
Netanyahu’s adult son Yair is known for his harsh campaigns against political opponents on social media, and he is often accused of using an extremely rude tone.
Both former prime ministers have already had experience with the judicial system.
Olmert preceded Netanyahu as Israel’s 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 removed 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. Netanyahu is currently serving as opposition leader in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Neither Netanyahu nor Olmert spoke at the court.