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Netanyahu, Olmert face off in court in defamation suit

Jerusalem, Jan 10

Two former Israeli prime ministers faced off in a Tel Aviv courtroom as Benjamin Netanyahu’s defamation suit against Ehud Olmert got underway on Monday.

Netanyahu, his wife and son appeared in the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court 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 leveled criticism at Netanyahu and said that what is irreparable is the mental illness of the prime minister, his wife and his son. The Netanyahus have sued Olmert, seeking nearly USD 270,000 in damages, according to Hebrew press reports.

Neither Netanyahu nor Olmert spoke at the courthouse.

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 ousted 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.