The 19th Knesset will have to discuss the morality of allowing politicians
convicted of crimes to return to government, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said
on Tuesday, referring to Shas leader Arye Deri’s comeback and former prime
minister Ehud Olmert’s deliberations on returning to politics.
interview to be published in Friday’s Jerusalem Post, Rivlin discussed the
political field ahead of January’s election, including elements pulling Likud to
the right, Arab MKs’ rights to political expression, and his own aspiration to
serve a record three terms as Knesset Speaker and be elected
Rivlin did not mention Deri and Olmert by name, but said
“people are asking if politicians who committed crimes can come back to the
Knesset. The law allows it.”
“The law is that someone who paid his debt
to society can come back, but there are public norms and legal norms,” he
If the law allows a politician to return after being convicted of
a crime, Rivlin said, it is up to the public to decide if they should vote for
him or not.
“The Knesset, which is responsible for the connection between
the public and its representatives, needs to hold a deep discussion next term on
the norms and the law,” he said. “We must ask: Does the moral norm match the
law?” Olmert, who is debating whether he will return to politics or not, was
convicted of breach of trust in July.
He may run for the 19th Knesset,
because the crime does not carry moral turpitude, but he is facing an appeal of
his acquittal on two counts of fraud.
Deri was convicted of accepting
bribes in 2000, serving almost two years in prison. The legal state of moral
turpitude associated with the crime carried expired in 2009.