Ehud Olmert speaks following verdict.
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely on Wednesday requested that the central elections
commission disqualify former prime minister Ehud Olmert from running for office
in the upcoming Knesset elections.
Hotovely’s grounds for asking Justice
Elyakim Rubinstein (who heads the election commission) to disqualify Olmert are
the actions for which he was convicted in the Investment Affair – since they
constitute moral turpitude.
The law regarding moral turpitude states that
where such a finding is made, the person in question cannot run for election for
Only a few weeks ago, the Jerusalem District Court accepted
the state prosecution’s position to forgo deciding on the issue of moral
turpitude as long as it was merely theoretical and without any concrete
At the time, Olmert had formally renounced all of his state
privileges as a former prime minister, including staffing and payment of a
variety of costs. Since there were no elections on the horizon, the court said
it would leave the issue for a later date, possibly even to a different public
Speaking on condition of anonymity, state prosecution
sources indicated they had passed on the issue because if Olmert tried to run
again, they knew it would be raised in one or more legal forums.
following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement of new elections
Tuesday night and former minister Haim Ramon’s public statements Wednesday that
he was seeking to recruit Olmert
to lead a Center-Left bloc, Hotovely decided
that the issue was no longer theoretical.
In her letter to the
commission, the Likud legislator noted that while Olmert had been convicted of
one crime of breaching public trust in the Investment Affair, the affair itself
included four separate actions of breach of public trust. She also noted the court’s statement
that Olmert’s conviction had not been merely technical, but was one of the most
serious crimes according to special legislation regarding public
Hotovely said that “elections are the time to strengthen the
public’s faith in the political system.”She added that “even if he has some
marginal support,” the “return of an offender convicted of corruption while in
public office seriously harms the Knesset’s position” in the public
The Likud MK also said that Olmert’s attempted return would be even
more problematic since “the ink still isn’t dry” on his
Reacting to Hotovely’s announcement, Kadima MK Yoel Hasson
said that “Hotovely and her colleagues are becoming hysterical” and are
“revealing their true thoughts.”
“Suddenly they realize that the possible
return of Olmert represents an alternative to Netanyahu,” and that is what the
public “has been thirsting for,” said Hasson.
Ultimately, “the public
will decide” whether or not Olmert returns to power by voting, said Hasson, “not
Hotovely and her extremist colleagues.”
In an interview with Army Radio,
Kadima MK Dalia Itzik, commenting on the possible return of Olmert, said, “I
want to see him as prime minister of Israel.”
“At this point we need to
put fanaticism and ego to one side, consider how to team up with each other and
to think how to do our best for Israel,” Itzik said.
Hotovely’s move is
somewhat surprising since Olmert himself has made no official announcement about
Therefore, it would be a stretch for the commission to
preemptively invalidate his candidacy when the Jerusalem District Court declined
to do so, regardless of the media firestorm surrounding comments on his
Regardless of the outcome, the move could be
significant as it could further highlight the corruption conviction before the
Olmert is no messiah needed by the nation to save it, said a
source close to Hotovely, noting that the MK’s request had nothing to do with a
candidate being from the Left or the Right. Rather, it was about
observing a certain standard.
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