Netanyahu Family Ordered to Appear for Suit Against Former Prime Minister Olmert

Judge scolds opposition leader, his wife and their son for last-minute request to skip hearing in defamation suit against former prime minister

Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel
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Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, last month.
Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset, last month.Credit: Ohad Zwigenberg
Netael Bandel
Netael Bandel

A court has refused to allow opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu and his family to skip Monday’s scheduled hearing on their defamation suit against former Prime Minister Ehud Olmert.

Tel Aviv Magistrate’s Court Judge Amit Yariv lambasted them for even asking and warned that if any of the plaintiffs – Netanyahu, his wife Sara and their son Yair – is absent, he will consider it a violation of his ruling, “with all that implies.”

In a request filed Sunday, the Netanyahus argued that coming to court would be difficult due to the necessary security arrangements. But Yariv said such a last-minute request was unacceptable. “The date and time of the hearing were set over two months ago,” he pointed out.

Moreover, he added sarcastically, “the way to avoid delays stemming from security arrangements is obviously to leave the house earlier.”

He also rejected their request that they be allowed to participate via Zoom due to the rampant coronavirus.

“Even a request of this sort should have been submitted by the plaintiffs long since, and not 24 hours before the hearing,” Yariv wrote. “The hearing will be held in compliance with Health Ministry regulations, and therefore, my decision obligating the plaintiffs to come in person stands.”

Finally, he reprimanded their lawyer, Yossi Cohen. “In the future, I advise the plaintiffs’ lawyers to submit such requests earlier so they can be seriously considered,” he wrote.

The Netanyahus sued Olmert for 837,000 shekels ($269,000) after he said they were mentally ill and repeatedly refused to apologize. In his response to the court, Olmert argued that this wasn’t slanderous, because they had been in psychological treatment, and his statement was therefore true. He also demanded that the court waive medical confidentiality rules for all three plaintiffs so that their mental health could be verified.

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