An Israeli court ruled Monday that former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert defamed his successor, Benjamin Netanyahu, and ordered him to pay damages to the former leader and his family.
The high-profile defamation suit that kicked off earlier this year pitted the only Israeli prime minister ever to go to prison against the ousted longest-serving leader of the country.
Netanyahu's lawyer hailed the ruling as "the shattering of another libel" - an allusion to his client's assertion of innocence in three graft trials that overshadowed his last term as premier and are complicating his efforts to retake power.
Netanyahu sued Olmert for remarks he made in 2021, after a series of inconclusive parliamentary elections. At the time, Netanyahu refused calls to step down while on trial for corruption charges.
The Jerusalem Magistrate's Court dismissed Olmert's claim that he was "expressing an opinion in good faith" by saying Netanyahu exhibited "crazy behavior" and that his wife and son suffered from "mental illness."
Jerusalem Magistrates' Court ruled that Olmert's portrayal of Netanyahu, his wife Sara and son Yair had exposed them to "hate, ridicule or degradation" and that the defendant had not substantiated the remarks with a proper medical assessment.
The court also ruled that Olmert's remarks on DemocraTV in April 2021 constituted defamation of character and ordered the former prime minister to pay damages totaling around $18,000 to Netanyahu and his family, as well as legal costs.
Olmert can appeal the decision.