Bielski launches ‘let Ashkenazi run’ campaign

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 21, 2011 04:43

Kadima MK convinced that with a groundswell of public support, he can persuade enough ministers to allow the so-called Gabi Ashkenazi bill to pass.

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LT.-GEN. Gabi Ashkenazi

Ashkenazi looking to the sky 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)

When the Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted two months ago on a proposal aimed at allowing former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to run in the next Knesset election, not a single minister voted for it.

But Kadima MK Ze’ev Bielski is convinced that with a groundswell of public support, he can persuade enough ministers to allow the so-called Gabi Ashkenazi bill to pass. To that end, Bielski has initiated a “let Ashkenazi run” campaign, which is already spreading like wildfire on Facebook.

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“It’s not fair that there is no cooling-off period for journalists who enter politics and a Finance Ministry director-general can work for companies he regulates after only a year, but a man who served his country for decades has to sit at home for so long,” Bielski said.

According to the so-called Halutz Law, IDF officers with a rank of major-general and lieutenant-general, and the equivalent ranks in the Shin Bet, Mossad, Israel Police and Prisons Service must wait three years before contending for a seat in the Knesset.

Before the law, named after former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Dan Halutz (res.), was passed four years ago, they only had to wait six months.

The Ashkenazi bill, which was sponsored by MKs Yoel Hasson (Kadima) and Eitan Cabel (Labor), would cut the waiting period to 18 months.

Bielski said no country had such a draconian cooling- off period for ex-generals.

He said the ministers who opposed allowing Ashkenazi to run did so because they were concerned about their own political futures.

“These ministers are cowards,” Bielski said. “If Ashkenazi would join Kadima, I would gladly give up my seat in the Knesset for him.”

Since Ashkenazi retired from the IDF last Sunday, several public figures have urged him to enter politics, most notably President Shimon Peres.

“It would be a shame to lose a man like Ashkenazi, who has such abilities and leadership skills,” Peres said.

When Ashkenazi was asked whether he would enter politics in a meeting with the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations last week, he gave the same answer he gives when asked whether Israel might use military force to prevent the nuclearization of Iran.

“All options are on the table,” he said.


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