Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving prime minister, along with his wife Sara and eldest son Yair, filed a defamation lawsuit in June after Olmert described them as “mentally ill” and in need of psychiatric treatment during a TV interview in April 2021.
Olmert, Israel’s only prime minister to serve a prison sentence for corruption, made the remarks after several rounds of inconclusive elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused to resign because he was on trial on corruption charges.
The Tel Aviv Court of First Instance rejected Olmert’s claim that he was “expressing an opinion in good faith”.
The court ruled that the comments constituted defamation and ordered Olmert to pay NIS 62,500 (about US$18,000) to Netanyahu and his family, in addition to legal costs.
Olmert, who did not immediately respond to the ruling, can appeal the decision.
Netanyahu was tasked with forming a new government on November 13, following the victory of the veteran politician and his alliance of far-right parties in parliamentary elections. ■