Former Israeli leader Ehud Olmert defamed Benjamin Netanyahu, court rules

Israeli leaders Benjamin Netanyahu and Ehud Olmert in 2009
Newly elected Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, left, sits with outgoing leader Ehud Olmert during a handover ceremony in Jerusalem in 2009.
(Menahem Kahana / Associated Press)

Former Israeli Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defamed his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and must pay damages to Netanyahu and his family, a court ruled Monday.

The high-profile defamation suit had kicked off earlier this year, pitting Olmert, the only Israeli prime minister ever to go to prison, against Netanyahu, the country’s longest-serving leader, who was ousted from the premier’s office last year but is on the verge of returning to it.

Netanyahu sued Olmert for remarks made in 2021 after a series of inconclusive parliamentary elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused calls to step down while on trial for corruption charges.


The Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court dismissed Olmert’s claim that he was “expressing an opinion in good faith” when he said that Netanyahu exhibited “crazy behavior” and that his wife and son suffered from “mental illness.”

The court ruled that Olmert’s remarks on DemocraTV in April 2021 constituted defamation of character, and ordered Olmert to pay damages of around $18,000 to Netanyahu and his family, as well as legal costs. Olmert can appeal the decision.