Countdown to Ashkenazi’s potential political career begins

Parties jostle for chance to have outgoing IDF chief in their ranks; Ashkenazi must wait 3 years before being elected to Knesset.

February 14, 2011 02:50
3 minute read.
 Ashkenazi  with his mother and his brother

Ashkenazi and family 311. (photo credit: IDF Spokesman)

Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi will end his service in the IDF on Monday, officially beginning the three-year waiting period before he can be elected to the Knesset.

According to the so-called Halutz Law, IDF officers with a rank of major-general and lieutenant-general, and senior officials in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency), Mossad, Israel Police and Prisons Service with a rank equivalent to major-general or above, 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. (res.) Dan Halutz was passed four years ago, they only had to wait six months.

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Efforts to change the law to enable Ashkenazi to run for the next Knesset have not succeeded. The socalled “Ashkenazi bill” that would have cut the waiting period to a year and a half fell unanimously in the ministerial committee on legislation, making its passage in the Knesset nearly impossible.

Nevertheless, MKs in multiple parties expressed hope on Sunday that Ashkenazi would eventually enter politics with their respective parties.

“He should relax for a while now, but the moment he does make a decision about whether to enter politics, he should know that he would be welcome in Kadima with open arms,” said Kadima MK Yoel Hasson, who initiated the Ashkenazi bill with Labor faction chairman Eitan Cabel.

Cabel, who advised Ashkenazi against joining Labor when it was headed by Ehud Barak, would now be more open to the idea.

“We have to prove ourselves a party worthy of him now,” Cabel said.

Cabel said he did not know whether Ashkenazi’s career would be hurt by a book published on Sunday containing several allegations against him.

Another soon-to-be-former general, Maj.-Gen. Yoav Galant, could also be sought after by multiple parties when his cooling-off period ends.

Independence and Israel Beiteinu could be logical choices for Galant, due to his friendship with Barak and the strong support he has received from Israel Beiteinu minister Uzi Landau.

“Anyone who sees Israel Beiteinu fitting their ideology is welcome to come to the party,” an Israel Beiteinu spokesman said. “They can come to the committee and offer their candidacy. There is room for everyone.”

One party where Galant may not be welcome is the Likud, where Minister-without- Portfolio Michael Eitan appears to have a personal vendetta against him. Eitan told the cabinet on Sunday that Galant should not be allowed to hold any highranking position due to allegedly false legal statements he made about expanding his property in Moshav Amikam onto public land.

“He cannot compete for other top public offices after he ignored several warnings and continued time after time to break the law,” Eitan said. “For instance, I heard he was a candidate for head of the Shin Bet. That should be totally unacceptable.”

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu warned Eitan to “control himself” and “select his words better.” A shouting match ensued between Eitan and Barak, who complained about Eitan’s saying Galant had behaved like a mafioso and a bully.

“You have no right to scold my behavior,” Eitan reportedly shouted at Barak.

“You abandoned Galant. Your behavior is the ugliest in the country.”

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