Ex-Israeli PM Olmert says his successor Netanyahu exhibited ‘crazy behavior’
Former Israeli prime minister Ehud Olmert on Monday repeated his assertion that his successor and former rival, Benjamin Netanyahu, exhibited “crazy behavior” and “mental illness”, The Associated Press reported.
The AP report came as a high-profile defamation lawsuit between the two political heavyweights got underway.
The two fallen prime ministers faced off in a largely empty Tel Aviv 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 Israeli 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 parliamentary elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused calls to step down while on trial for corruption charges.
In an interview with an Israeli 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 Hebrew press reports.
Talking to the press during the court proceedings, Olmert defended the remarks he made about Netanyahu 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 Israel’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 has accused police, prosecutors and the media of conspiring against him.
He was ousted from the prime minister's office after a coalition of parties opposing him formed a coalition last June.