(photo credit: REUTERS)
Former prime minister Ehud Olmert should be allowed to make a political comeback, former pensioners affairs minister Rafi Eitan, who served in Olmert’s cabinet, told The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
Eitan said he would speak to President Reuven Rivlin about reducing the seven-year ban forbidding Olmert to hold political office due to his convictions for bribery and fraud and the moral turpitude involved in those convictions.
Olmert was released in July after serving 16 months of a 27-month sentence.
“I think Olmert must return to politics, and if that means the president needs to remove the moral turpitude, I am in favor,” Eitan said. “I haven’t spoken to Rivlin yet, but if there is a movement to return Olmert to politics, I want to join. He is a positive and creative figure who is missing in politics today.”
Olmert wrote in his new book Ehud Olmert in First Person
that he arranged for Eitan a handshake with George W. Bush when the former US president came to Israel, even though Eitan is persona non grata in America because he was the handler of Israeli agent Jonathan Pollard. In the book, Olmert is very critical of Rivlin.
“My effort to get Olmert back in politics is not connected to the handshake with Bush but to my own personal good sense,” Eitan said.
Rivlin’s associates said that when Eitan asks, he will be told that only Olmert, his lawyers, or close family can request the removal of his moral turpitude designation.
Rivlin, who sparred with Olmert politically for decades, denied his requests for a pardon but approved his request to remove the prison conditions of the remaining months of his sentence after he was released early for good behavior.
Those conditions were never released to the public but they are believed to include forbidding him to travel abroad and requiring him to check in with police once a month and receive continued treatment. Because Rivlin removed the conditions, Olmert will be able to speak at the Jerusalem Post Conference on April 29 in New York.
Eitan’s intentions were first revealed in a tweet by journalist Mazal Mualem.
When Eitan, who at 92 years old is 20 years Olmert’s senior, was asked whether he was planning his own return to politics, he responded: “I am investing in the scientists who are working on lengthening life, and if they succeed, I’ll make a comeback.”
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