The Tel Aviv District Court ruled on Sunday to delay further proceedings in Ehud Olmert’s defamation lawsuit against Moshe Lador, in order for the court to hear the state prosecutor’s request to appeal against a ruling denying him immunity from prosecution.

As a result of the ruling, Lador does not now need to file a defense response to Olmert’s lawsuit. However, after Judge Eitan Orenstein said he would not make any decision regarding Lador’s immunity, it is possible that the matter will be taken to the Supreme Court.

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“I believe there is a possibility the claim will require clarification in an evidentiary hearing and that it will be decided in a ruling,” the judge said.

The former prime minister is suing Lador for defamation following remarks the state prosecutor made in a February interview with left-leaning Hebrew daily Haaretz.

In the Haaretz interview, the state prosecutor described a $75,000 loan Olmert had allegedly received from American businessman Josef Elmaliach in 1993 as “extraordinarily scandalous,” and claimed Olmert had yet to return the money.

The former prime minister, who is currently standing trial in the Jerusalem District Court on a string of corruption allegations, all of which he strongly denies, said that Lador’s remarks about an ongoing lawsuit could affect the trial because they would be heard by the judges hearing the case.

“Mr. Lador’s extensive references to an ongoing proceeding in Mr. Olmert’s affairs and another ongoing investigation, which is awaiting Lador’s decision [the Holyland Affair], combined with what he said about the loan Mr. Olmert received from Mr.

Elmaliach, severely violated Mr. Olmert’s basic rights as a suspect and an accused party, and defamed him,” the lawsuit reads.

“The right of suspects to due process is a basic one, an indivisible part of their right to dignity and freedom.”

After the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court refused Lador’s request to throw Olmert’s lawsuit out – and even criticized Lador for his Haaretz interview – the state asked the court to grant him immunity from prosecution on the grounds that he is a public servant. When the Magistrate’s Court ruled against that request last month, the Justice Ministry requested permission to appeal the verdict. The ministry said that, according to tort laws, public servants have immunity from lawsuits over actions carried out in the line of duty.

Olmert is demanding Lador and Haaretz pay him NIS 150,000 in damages. The former prime minister’s lawyers have said that if he wins the suit the money will be donated to the Bialik-Rogozin School in south Tel Aviv.

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