Former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu emphatically rejected former prime minister Ehud Olmert’s motion to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court to compel the Netanyahu family to disclose any details that could prove any of them have had a mental illness.
According to Netanyahu, Olmert’s motion is an attempt at extortion to cover up his defamation of the Netanyahus by going on a “fishing expedition” regarding personal details that constitutional privacy provisions protect from disclosure.
The dispute is part of the broader defamation lawsuit by the Netanyahus against Olmert for calling into doubt the Netanyahus’ mental health in two interviews last year.
Additional points that Netanyahu argued on Wednesday were that standard defamation law requires Olmert to prove his claims about the Netanyahus based only on what he knew at the time he made those claims, not based on acquiring new information from the Netanyahus.
He even noted that at a prior court hearing, the court tried to convince Olmert to drop his defense that what he had claimed was true, and focus instead on a defense claiming he was only expressing a political opinion and not trying to state facts.
Furthermore, Netanyahu said that Olmert was cherry-picking or mischaracterizing various past precedents to support this request for the Netanyahus’ mental health records.
Olmert’s January 23 motion especially zoned in on an alleged private flight to Austria paid for by third parties for Sara Netanyahu to cope with a mental breakdown, which was covered up by Yair Netanyahu to avoid negative media coverage.
The trial of Netanyahu and his family against Olmert includes NIS 837,000 of alleged damages for statements he made in two April interviews against the Netanyahus’ mental health.
Despite attempts by the court to reach a settlement that would avoid the need for a trial and some initial flexibility by both sides, the former prime ministers eventually dug in their heels for the long haul of what promises to be a memorable legal conflagration.
Since there was no settlement, Olmert filed his motion to try to build his evidentiary claims that the Netanyahus have had mental illnesses, leading to Netanyahu's response.
ADDITIONAL QUESTIONS that Olmert attorney Amir Tytunovich asked the Netanyahus include whether Sara’s former (and now deceased) lawyer Jacob Weinroth had argued that one reason to close the Prime Minister’s Residence fraud probes against her was that she was mentally ill.
Weinroth gave a TV interview to Uvda in 2017 that could have been construed as discussing the Netanyahus’ mental health, referring to himself as sometimes “acting like a part-time psychiatrist” for them, and describing techniques he used to calm them down when they became extremely upset.
Other questions asked about whether any of the three Netanyahus had ever used psychiatric drugs or treatment for ADD or ADHD or for controlling physical trembling.
Zoning in on Yair, Olmert asked if he had managed to hold down a full-time job consistently since 2015, and if the answer was no if this related to his mental instability.
Another question asked of Yair was if he had a pattern of suddenly fasting when angry with his parents for something.
Olmert asked if any of the Netanyahus or their messengers ever verbally attacked others as mentally ill or on social media. Yair is known for his highly aggressive style on Twitter.
Olmert wanted to know if others who were not being sued had attacked Benjamin Netanyahu when he was trying to form a new government in the Spring.
Olmert’s point seemed to relate to his second defense, that even if the Netanyahus are sane, he was only using a metaphorical expression to declare how unfit he thought Benjamin Netanyahu was to return to being prime minister.
One of Olmert’s interviews was on April 12 to Democrat TV, and the second interview was on April 21 on the Ophira and Berkowitz TV program.
During the first interview, Olmert called the Netanyahu family “mentally ill.”
Within days, the Netanyahus had threatened to sue Olmert for NIS 1 million if he did not retract his statement.
Olmert doubled down on his characterization of the Netanyahu family in the second interview, explicitly refusing to retract it, and laughing when one of his interviewers warned him he might be losing a million shekels.
Olmert’s first comment was said during an interview in which he heavily criticized the Netanyahu government’s conduct during the corona pandemic.
“We had NIS 100 billion to hand out as unpaid leave grants,” Olmert said. “If we had invested 10% of that in the public health system over the past two or three years, we would be in a completely different situation!
“What can’t be fixed is the mental illness of the prime minister and his wife and son,” he added, and that “under regular circumstances, any psychiatrist with a healthy conscience... would tell you that they need to be hospitalized. They are sick people.”