Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert on Monday rejected out of hand the idea that he could apologize to opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu for calling him and his wife and son “mentally ill.” ”, Arguing that this is a widely held opinion.
Olmert gave a series of interviews hours after the first Tel Aviv Magistrates’ Court hearing in the Netanyahu family’s libel case against him.
In May, Netanyahu’s family filed a libel suit against Olmert for calling the then prime minister, his wife Sara and his eldest son Yair “mentally ill” in interviews. The lawsuit seeks NIS 837,000 (approximately $ 257,000) in damages for “Olmert’s” obsessive efforts to damage their reputation in public, out of jealousy and deep frustration. “
Were present at Monday’s hearing Olmert and his lawyer, as well as Benjamin, Sara and Yair Netanyahu, and their lawyer. The session ended with the parties refusing to reach a compromise, despite the judge’s exhortations to do so. The case will therefore continue in court.
When asked if he would apologize, Olmert said later that day in an interview with Channel 12 News: “Of course not. It was not even considered. There’s no way that will happen – no excuses or anything like it.
Olmert added that what he said about Netanyahu was soft compared to other comments made in recent years about his fellow former prime minister, saying he was “amused” by all the comments, Netanyahu decided to file a complaint against his.
“Does anyone seriously think I’m a psychiatrist?” Of course, I expressed an opinion, very popular among the public regarding the conduct of the family – and there have been countless revelations about it, ”he argued.
“The conduct of the family on various aspects corresponds to the opinion [I expressed] – their behavior is not normal, ”said Olmert in a separate interview with Channel 13.
He said he consulted experts before making this remark. “Mental illness is an illness, it requires treatment and people with mental illness shouldn’t be offended,” he said. “I just don’t want to [the Netanyahus] rule the country and make decisions on the most fateful questions.
In another attack on the Netanyahu family, Olmert said that “if there is anything they are good at, it is demanding money, especially from others.”
It was a reference to one of the ongoing corruption cases against Netanyahu in which he is accused of receiving lucrative illicit gifts from wealthy benefactors. He also referred to Netanyahu’s failed attempts to get his multimillionaire cousin Nathan Milikowsky to cover his legal fees.
At Monday’s hearing, Judge Amit Yariv asked Olmert what he based his comments on and replied: “I followed their actions, I heard recordings from the family, I conferred with them. experts and people associated with and know them well. . They described to me behaviors that are generally considered to be abnormal and crazy behaviors.
Netanyahu’s lawyer Yossi Cohen said: “I don’t understand how a man can calmly write that Sara Netanyahu was in a treatment center. We don’t have a problem with Mr. Olmert; he went through difficult things. But a family is sitting here who I think are one of the best in Israel, and they must hear that a former prime minister – who by the way doesn’t have a past of their own – calls them mentally ill. ? “
Cohen said at one point that “in another country, Olmert was reportedly arrested” for his comments. To this, the judge replied, “Thank goodness we are not in this country. “
In two interviews last year, one with Channel 12 and another with the Democrat TV news site, Olmert criticized Netanyahu and said that “what is irreparable is the mental illness of the Prime Minister, his wife and son, ”referring to Yair Netanyahu.
“They need psychiatric treatment,” Olmert said.
Neither Olmert nor Netanyahu are strangers to justice.
Olmert predated Netanyahu as Israeli prime minister, ending his tenure before being formally charged with corruption. He was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served 16 months of a 27-month prison sentence.
Netanyahu is currently on trial in three corruption cases. He faces charges of fraud and breach of trust in Case 1000 and in Case 2000, and charges of corruption, fraud and breach of trust in Case 4000.
Netanyahu denies all the allegations against him and says the charges were fabricated by a biased police force and prosecution, overseen by a weak attorney general, in concert with political opponents and the media.
Netanyahu and his family have also been involved in several defamation cases in recent years, both as defendants and as plaintiffs.