Olmert and the Netanyahus
Olmert and the NetanyahusMoshe Shai & Marc Israel Sellem/FLASH90

Former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert has submitted a request to the Tel Aviv District Court asking that the Netanyahu family – former premier Benjamin, his wife Sara, and son Yair – be subjected to psychiatric evaluation.

Olmert is currently being tried for defamation with the plaintiffs being the Netanyahu family, after Olmert publicly suggested that they suffered from mental illness. According to a report in the Haaretz newspaper, the chances of the judge granting Olmert’s request are low.

As part of his request, Olmert had a questionnaire sent to the various Netanyahu family members, asking them details related to their mental health. One question, posed to Yair Netanyahu, asked: “Is it true that in recent years – dating back to 2015 at least – you have not held a steady job due to reasons of mental health?” Another question asked: “Is it true that sometimes, when you are in a certain mental state, you get angry at your parents and stop eating as a form of fast?”

The Netanyahu family is demanding NIS 837 thousand in compensation from Olmert, after the latter said in a media interview: “The Prime Minister, his wife, and his son are all mentally ill to the extent that they cannot be rehabilitated.”

At the first hearing in the trial, held two weeks ago, the judge asked Olmert: “What steps did you take when you said that any psychiatrist would have had the Netanyahus admitted to a psychiatric ward?”

Olmert replied: “I listened to recordings of the family and I consulted with experts who know them, and they told me about forms of behavior that fell into the category of what people commonly call ‘insane, abnormal behavior.’”

The judge then noted that the main question that concerned him was not whether the plaintiffs were healthy or otherwise, but rather whether Olmert had any practical basis for the words he used.

Attorney Yossi Cohen, representing the Netanyahu family, said: “In any other country, Olmert would have been arrested,” to which the judge replied, “Thank G-d that we’re not in any other country.”

Attorney Amit Yariv, representing Olmert, then suggested that he erase his main line of defense, according to which the words he used publicly against the Netanyahu family were based on facts. Instead, the judge suggested to Olmert that he say that the words were merely his own personal opinion, even after he had already been interrogated on the witness stand. The Netanyahu family reportedly were willing to agree to this suggestion, but Olmert rejected it and the trial is set to continue.