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Netanyahus sue ex-PM Olmert for calling them mentally ill

Defamation suit seeks NIS 837,000 in damages; former premier shrugs it off as ‘amusing’

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara and their son Yair (L); former prime minister Ehud Olmert (R).(FLash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, his wife Sara and their son Yair (L); former prime minister Ehud Olmert (R).(FLash90)

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s family has filed a defamation suit against his predecessor Ehud Olmert for calling the premier, his wife Sara and eldest son Yair mentally ill in interviews.

The suit seeks NIS 837,000 (some $257,000) in damages for Olmert’s “obsessive efforts to harm their good name in public, out of jealously and deep frustration.”

In two separate interviews, 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 told the news site in April.

In response to the lawsuit, the former prime minister said he was “amused by the band of wackos” the Maariv daily reported.

Olmert preceded Netanyahu as Israel’s prime minister, ending his term before being formally indicted on corruption charges. He was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served 16 months of a 27-month prison sentence.

Last year, Olmert leveled similar criticism against Netanyahu in an interview with Army Radio.

Netanyahu is alleged to have abused his own powers when he served as both premier and communications minister from 2014 to 2017 by pushing regulatory decisions benefiting Bezeq’s controlling shareholder Shaul Elovitch in exchange for positive coverage from the Bezeq-owned Walla news site.

The alleged exchanges goes to the heart of Case 4000, the most serious of the cases against Netanyahu, in which he is charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust. Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to all charges.

In addition to his charges in Case 4000, Netanyahu is charged with fraud and breach of trust in two other cases, one of which also involves suspicions of trading regulatory favors for positive coverage.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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