Ministers likely to nix ‘Ashkenazi bill’

The bill would shorten the cooling-off period currently required for top security officials from three years to one.

By GIL STERN STERN HOFFMAN
February 26, 2012 02:03
1 minute read.
Former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi

Former chief of staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi 390. (photo credit: Courtesy of Dror Einav / INSS)

 
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A bill that would allow former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi to run in the next Knesset election is expected to suffer a setback on Sunday, when it will likely be voted down in the Ministerial Committee on Legislation.

The bill would shorten the cooling-off period currently required for top security officials from three years to one.

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This would enable Ashkenazi to compete in an election held as early as August.

“The Knesset cannot act like a closed-door club,” said the bill’s sponsors, Labor MKs Shelly Yacimovich and Isaac Herzog. “The three-year wait prevents quality people who have served the public from entering politics. This is not demanded of people from any other field, so it is discriminatory.”

When a similar bill was brought to a vote in the same committee in January 2011, it did not receive a single vote in favor. Labor officials admitted Saturday night that there was not much chance of getting a better result.

Ashkenazi did not help the bill’s chances when he wrote a column about conscripting haredim (ultra-Orthodox) men in Friday’s Yediot Aharonot Hebrew daily that was perceived as insulting cabinet ministers.

‘This is not the time for cheap politics,” he wrote. “The security of the state must come before the security of the coalition.”

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Other top security officials who could be affected in the unlikely event that the bill becomes law include former Mossad chief Meir Dagan and former IDF intelligence chief Amos Yadlin, whose father, Aharon Yadlin, was a Labor Party minister.

Former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, who intends to run in the next Knesset election for Kadima, backs shortening the cooling-off period, even though he said he did not mind waiting three years.

The so-called Halutz Bill, which passed in 2007, extended the cooling-off period from six months to three years. It impacted IDF officers with the rank of major-general and lieutenant- general, senior officials in the Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) and the Mossad, and Israel Police and Prisons Service personnel with the rank of commander or above.

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