Netanyahu Awarded Damages After a Predecessor Called Him ‘Mentally Ill’

Either way, the case had little effect on Israeli voters, many of whom apparently made up their minds long ago regarding their support for or opposition to Mr. Netanyahu and his family.

The judge in the libel case, who struggled to maintain decorum during the sometimes farcical proceedings during the testimony phase, said that he had taken no pleasure in hearing the case.

“It would have been better if the proceedings that took place in my court had not taken place at all,” he wrote in his ruling, adding, “The proceedings, and the testimonies that were aired in its course, did not add any honor to either side, nor to the institution of the prime ministry, a role served by both Mr. Netanyahu and Mr. Olmert.”

The judge explained that the scale of compensation should be linked to the extent that the plaintiffs had a choice in the matter of becoming public figures, whose position necessarily exposed them to criticism. Ordinarily, that would mean a prime minister’s being awarded the least amount; a spouse a middling amount; and children, who generally have little or no say in their parents’ choices, the most.

In this case, Mr. Netanyahu was awarded 20,000 shekels, or about $5,800, and Sara Netanyahu was awarded 35,000 shekels. But Yair Netanyahu was awarded a reduced amount of 7,500 shekels, because Mr. Olmert had demonstrated in court that the younger Mr. Netanyahu had described other public figures, including another former prime minister, Ehud Barak, as being mentally ill in similar terms to those used by Mr. Olmert.

The Netanyahus were also awarded about $10,000 to cover legal costs.

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