© Reuters. Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu during the swearing-in ceremony for Israel’s new parliament at the 25th Knesset in Jerusalem, November 15, 2022. Abir Sultan/Pool via REUTERS
By Dan Williams
JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu won on Monday against his predecessors who claimed that he, his wife and son were mentally ill, with a court ruling that the statements were aimed at damaging Netanyahu’s politics.
Netanyahu’s lawyer hailed the verdict as “another breaking point” – his client’s plea of not guilty on three counts of corruption that overshadowed his last term as prime minister and is undermining his bid to regain power.
Ehud Olmert, who served as prime minister between 2006 and 2009, said this in a TV interview last year shortly before Netanyahu, who was the head of the caretaker government, was ousted by a coalition of opponents.
Having won Israel’s election on November 1, Netanyahu now looks set to form a new coalition government against many of the parties that boycotted him over his political crisis.
The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court said that what Olmert showed Netanyahu, his wife Sara and his son Yair showed them “hatred, contempt or contempt” and that the defendant did not substantiate his claims with a proper medical examination.
While citing the hope that mental illness “will one day be treated like any other illness,” the court ordered Olmert to pay the Netanyahus 62,000 shekels ($17,850) in compensation. At first they wanted 837,000 shekels.
“The public’s attempt to change the outcome of democratic politics cannot be seen as ‘injurious intent’ in the sense of awarding substantial damages,” the 26-page ruling said of the reduced award.
In his latest article “Bibi: My Story”, Netanyahu describes Sara as a trusted policy advisor and his “rock” in times of crisis. He considers Yair, a well-known social media commentator, a “political observer”.
Olmert’s lawyer said he would appeal the decision.
(This article has been corrected to change the name of the court section 5)