'Ashkenazi Law' to face resistance in Knesset

Committee set to vote on bill designed to reduce cooling-off period for military figures entering politics from three years to 18 months.

Dan Meridor 311 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Dan Meridor 311
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Despite the support of dozens of MKs, the so-called “Ashkenazi Law,” designed to reduce the cooling-off period for military figures entering politics, is likely to face a stiff battle in the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, with a number of key ministers opposing the legislation. On Saturday, Intelligence Agencies Minister Dan Meridor became the latest Likud minister to express discomfort with what he labeled “personal legislation.”
Meridor offered the answer in response to the question of whether he supported the law, which would reduce the cooling- off period for senior IDF officers entering politics from three years to eighteen months, during an interview on Channel 2 television’s “Meet the Press.” Meridor is the second Likud minister on the key legislative committee to cast doubt on the popular bill in as many days.

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On Friday, Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who was the sponsor of the original cooling- off period law, said that he adamantly opposed watering down the legislation. If the new bill, sponsored by MKs Eitan Cabel (Labor) and Yoel Hasson (Kadima), should founder in the ministerial committee, embattled Labor chairman Ehud Barak will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
The current bill’s nickname stems from speculations that IDF Chief of General Staff Lt.- Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, a close confidant of Histadrut chairman Ofer Eini, is likely to contend for a slot in the Labor Party list following his departure from the IDF. Last week, Eini launched a stinging attack against Barak, calling him an “idiot” after Barak’s wife admitted to an illegal foreign worker as a housekeeper.
Eini’s criticism was delivered in concert with calls by Labor strongman Industry, Trade and Labor Minister Binyamin Ben-Eliezer for an external candidate to contend against Barak for the party’s leadership.
On Friday, Yediot Aharonot reported that 30 MKs had already expressed their support for the bill, and that after a long period of inactivity, the bill would be advanced through the Knesset’s House Committee for its first reading as early as next week. Even so, the bill would likely face an uphill struggle in the Knesset, as it is also opposed by coalition chairman MK Ze’ev Elkin (Likud), as well as additional members of Labor, Kadima and Likud.