Court rules Israel’s former PM Olmert defamed Netanyahu

JERUSALEM – Israel’s former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has defamed Benjamin Netanyahu and his family and will pay compensation, a court ruled on Monday.

Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, together with his wife Sara and their eldest son Yair, filed a libel suit in June after Olmert described them as “mentally ill” and in need of psychiatric treatment during a TV interview in April 2021.

Olmert, Israel’s only prime minister who served a prison sentence for corruption, made the remarks after several rounds of inconclusive elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused to step down as he was on trial for corruption charges.

The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court rejected Olmert’s claim that he was “expressing an opinion in good faith.”

The court ruled that the remarks constituted defamation and ordered Olmert to pay 62,500 shekels (about 18,000 U.S. dollars) to Netanyahu and his family, in addition to legal costs.

Olmert, who did not immediately respond to the ruling, may appeal the decision.

Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new government on Nov. 13, after the victory of the veteran politician and his alliance of far-right parties in parliamentary elections. ■

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