(photo credit: SIVAN FARAG)
The Ministerial Committee for Legislation voted down Sunday a Yesh Atid proposal to ban perpetrators of crimes with moral turpitude from ever running for elected office.
The bill sought to prohibit anyone convicted of a crime with moral turpitude of running for the Knesset or holding an executive government position, such as prime minister, minister or mayor. Currently, the law mandates a seven-year waiting period after the person is released from jail before he or she can run for political office.
The Justice Ministry opposed the bill proposed by MK Yair Lapid (Yesh Atid), saying it is too broad in both the time and the types of crimes to which it applies. At the same time, it allows people convicted of crimes without moral turpitude to run for office.
Still, Lapid called the ministers’ vote against his bill “moral bankruptcy by a government that refuses to fight corruption.”
Lapid referred to criticism in the ultra-Orthodox press that the bill targeted Economy Minister Arye Deri, and pointed out that laws cannot apply retroactively, so it would not affect the Shas chairman.
“This topic is too important to turn into a personal battle,” the Yesh Atid chairman added.
“There are those who may claim that we need to let people who paid their debt to society rebuild their lives. That is right, of course, but why should they do it specifically in the place in which the temptation for corruption is greatest?” According to Lapid, public life should be the cleanest place in Israel. He pointed to the absurdity of the rule that a minister’s driver cannot have a criminal record, while a minister can have one.
“Trust is the basis of any civilized human society, and when citizens think the system is twisted, it is hard to explain to them why they should stay straight.
This law must pass,” he added.
Knesset watchdog organization Hamishmar pointed out on Twitter that Lapid did not support several anti-corruption initiatives in the last Knesset, including expanding protection for whistleblowers and publicizing elected officials’ conflicts of interests.
However, Yesh Atid dedicated a large part of its election campaign this year to fighting corruption, expanding the usual definition of the word to include what Lapid called non-criminal corruption, like a plan he shot down as finance minister to buy a private plane that the Prime Minister’s and President’s Offices would share, or building roads in the West Bank when some of the parties in power have voters in that area, another proposal Lapid blocked.