The Netanyahu family has been ordered by a court to take the witness stand in its libel case against former prime minister Ehud Olmert, Channel 13 reported Tuesday.
According to the report, members of the opposition leader’s family will be required to testify in the case, in which Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife, Sara, and son, Yair, have filed a lawsuit against Olmert for questioning their sanity.
The judge in the libel case has also reportedly rejected a request from the Netanyahus’ lawyers to toss out the list of witnesses summoned by Olmert, including the family’s personal doctor.
The next hearing will be held June 12 in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court.
Netanyahu’s family filed a defamation lawsuit last year against Olmert for calling the then-prime minister, his wife Sara, and eldest son Yair “mentally ill” in interviews. The suit seeks NIS 837,000 ($261,000) in damages for Olmert’s “obsessive efforts to harm their good name in public, out of jealousy and deep frustration.”
The witness list summoned by Olmert includes Miriam Adelson, the widow of Sheldon Adelson who was a longtime ally of Netanyahu. The document claims she can attest to various events in which she was present and foresaw “behaviors and expressions,” from which she concluded that the Netanyahu couple suffered from alleged “mental disorders.”
Others included on Olmert’s list are former national security adviser Uzi Arad, former Shin Bet chief Yuval Diskin, former aid and current state witness in Netanyahu’s ongoing corruption trial Nir Hefetz, and former prime minister’s residence employee Meni Naftali.
In two separate interviews last year, one with Channel 12 and another with the news site Democrat TV, Olmert leveled criticism at Netanyahu and said that “what is irreparable is the mental illness of the prime minister, his wife, and his son,” referring to Yair Netanyahu.
“They are in need of psychiatric treatment,” Olmert said.
The former prime minister claimed he had consulted experts before making the remark. “Mental illness is an illness, it requires treatment and mentally ill people should not be offended,” he said. “I just don’t want [the Netanyahus] to be running the country and making decisions on the most fateful issues.”
Olmert preceded Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, ending his term in 2009 before being formally indicted on corruption charges. He was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served 16 months of a 27-month prison sentence.