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Netanyahu-Olmert mudslinging splashes Israeli headlines

The family of former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is suing former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for saying they are mentally ill, but Olmert is standing behind his claims.
Lior Mizrahi/Getty Images

Israeli politics never ceases to amaze with its capacity for chaos. The latest saga pits two former prime ministers against each other in a court of law. Just prior to being ousted from office in June, former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his family filed suit against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for claiming in a series of interviews that they were “mentally ill, requiring psychiatric treatment.” Speaking to Democrat TV, Olmert said, “What can’t be fixed is the mental illness of the prime minister and his wife and son. … Under regular circumstances any psychiatrist with a healthy conscience … would tell you that they need to be hospitalized. They are sick people.”

A court also ordered son Yair Netanyahu to pay nearly 300,000 shekels ($87,000) in damages to a journalist, Avi Alkalay, who had sued him for defamation of character. The court rejected their appeal against the judgment just this week, but the family was undeterred. The defamation suit against Olmert alleges that Olmert embarked on “obsessive attempts to harm the plaintiffs and to trample their reputation in public out of sheer enjoyment and deep frustration, malice and wickedness.” When the family ignored him, the suit alleges, Olmert took up even harsher invectives against them, “crossing every red line possible."

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