Likud candidate likely to quit

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit supports permitting Rousso to run.

Tal Rousso at the Central Elections Committee, March 5th, 2019 (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Tal Rousso at the Central Elections Committee, March 5th, 2019
Likud Knesset candidate Pinhas Idan is expected to announce on Wednesday morning that he will resign from the party’s Knesset list after the head of the Central Elections Committee, Supreme Court justice Hanan Melcer, indicated to him at a hearing on Tuesday that such a move would be in his best interest.
The candidacy of Idan, who is 19th on the list, is in question because he attempted to run while remaining head of the airport worker’s union. He accepted a lower post to be able to run in a deal that Melcer and Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit have said is problematic.
Melcer made clear to him that he can still return to his old post without suffering any consequences if he returns now, but he could face consequences if the judge ends up issuing a ruling disqualifying him from running.
“I am sick of this,” Idan said at the hearing. “I am going to have to pay a price.”
Melcer gave him a deadline of Wednesday at 9 a.m. to tell him his decision. If Idan leaves the list, everyone behind him will automatically move up one slot.
Earlier Tuesday, reserve general Tal Rousso asked Melcer at his hearing to permit him to run in the April 9 election. The hearing took place because Melcer has questioned whether Rousso had completed the necessary three-year cooling-off period since leaving the IDF. When Melcer noted that “General Rousso” had entered the room, Rousso corrected him: “Reserve general.”
Rousso, who Labor leader Avi Gabbay selected as his number two, said he left the IDF in January 2014 and decided to work in business and help charities. But after Operation Protective Edge, he told then-IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot that it was too hard for him to wait on the sidelines, so he volunteered to play a significant role in reserve duty. When he thought the army’s problems had been solved and did not see a war ahead, he stopped that role in 2017.
“I am sure and confident that my request to run will be accepted,” Rousso said at the conclusion of the hearing. “I did reserve duty to contribute to the state.”
Sources close to Melcer said his concern was to make sure the cooling-off period law would be respected and generals would not use reserve duty as a loophole to go from the IDF to politics. But Mandelblit supports permitting Rousso to run.
The decision on Rousso is expected in the coming days.
There will be a vote in the committee on Tuesday evening on the candidacy of Likud candidate Eli Ben-Dahan.
Ben-Dahan’s candidacy is being questioned because he is a member of Bayit Yehudi, but Likud gave him a slot on its list for political reasons.