Yair Lapid, February 2, 2015.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid unveiled an extensive plan for fighting political corruption Monday in a speech outside Ma’asiyahu Prison in Ramle, where former Shas leader Arye Deri and former finance minister Avraham Hirschson served sentences.
According to the plan, anyone convicted of a crime that includes moral turpitude will never be allowed to serve as a minister or member of Knesset again – instead of the current seven-year cooling-off period. Public figures who are called into a police investigation will no longer have the right to remain silent, as current Labor leader Isaac Herzog did in 1999. Any minister or member of Knesset who is charged by the police will leave their post immediately.
“The unbelievable thing is that there are people who left this place and returned to public life,” Lapid said of the prison. “Everyone – the entire political system – says that it’s okay. After a seven year break, they paid their debt to society, why shouldn’t they come back? It has to stop.
They can’t return. Why? Because we’ve had enough of corruption.”
Lapid said his MKs would present the bill at the Knesset the day it is back in session. He said no other party could propose such a plan, because Yesh Atid was the only party in which none of its leaders or MKs had been arrested, investigated, suspected, chose to remain silent, was convicted, or sat in prison.
He singled out Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who has been the subject of headlines accusing him of misusing public funds.
“We live in a reality where the gatekeepers are silent when the prime minister hides behind his wife and turns the prime minister’s residence into a detached imperial palace,” he said. “Why is it so hard to present an expenses report? Five investigators will do the job in a week. What’s the problem with investigating the bottles, the garden furniture, the water in the swimming pool in Caesarea and the pistachio ice cream? This behavior has to stop.”
To strengthen the deterrent, Lapid said his party would increase punishments for corruption and call for heavy mandatory minimum sentences against elected officials and senior public sector employees.
At the end of the press conference, Lapid ignored a question about his personal connection with former prime minister Ehud Olmert, who was his late father Yosef Lapid’s best friend and has been convicted of accepting bribes in the Holyland scandal.
Later Monday, Lapid told The Jerusalem Post that he had not spoken to Olmert since his conviction last March.
“My father believed in his innocence,” he said.
“I thought it’s not my place to be the court of law.”