AL-QUDS (AFP) – Former Zionist prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday repeated his assertion that his successor and former rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, exhibited “crazy behavior” as a high-profile defamation lawsuit between the two got underway.
The two fallen prime ministers faced off in a largely empty courtroom in the opening of Netanyahu’s defamation suit against Olmert. Netanyahu was joined by his wife, Sara, and oldest son, Yair. Olmert, the only Zionist prime minister ever to go to prison, sat alone on a bench, his legs crossed, across the room.
Netanyahu is suing Olmert for remarks he made last year, during the aftermath of a series of inconclusive elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused calls to step down while on trial for corruption charges.
In an interview with a news site last April, Olmert leveled criticism at Netanyahu and said that “what is irreparable is the mental illness of the prime minister, his wife and his son.”
The Netanyahus have sued Olmert, seeking nearly $270,000 in damages, according to reports.
Neither Netanyahu nor Olmert spoke to the press at the start of the hearing.
But during the proceedings, Olmert defended his remarks on DemocraTV last year.
“I followed their actions, I heard recordings of members of the family, I consulted with experts and with people close to them who know them intimately,” Olmert said, according to media reports. “They detailed to me behavior that in common parlance is abnormal behavior, crazy behavior.”
Olmert preceded Netanyahu as the Zionist regime’s prime minister, but resigned in 2008 before he was formally indicted on corruption charges. Olmert was convicted of fraud in 2014 and served most of a 27-month prison sentence. Olmert, 76, is now in private business.
As for Netanyahu, he is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. He denies any wrongdoing and has accused police, prosecutors and the media of conspiring against him.