Livni slammed for begging Ramon to seek Kadima slot

MKs: Advancing a sex offender contradicts 'clean politics'

haim ramon 248.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
haim ramon 248.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Vice Premier Haim Ramon announced on Friday night he has accepted Kadima leader Tzipi Livni's request to stand for Knesset despite his interest in retiring from politics. Livni met with Ramon several times over the past few weeks and pleaded with him to run. She was concerned that his departure at the same time that Likud was bringing in numerous public figures would damage Kadima politically. But MKs and leaders of women's organizations said Ramon's remaining would harm Kadima, because he was convicted of sexual harassment for forcibly kissing a female soldier on the day the Second Lebanon War broke out in 2006. The Coalition of Women for Peace, which led past campaigns against Ramon, urged Livni to reconsider allowing him to run and called on her to deny him a place in the cabinet. "A party that advances a convicted sex offender should not expect to receive support from women, even if it is led by a woman," coalition spokeswoman Adi Dagan said. Likud MK Limor Livnat said Livni's decision to allow Ramon to run went hand in hand with her lack of criticism for Finance Minister Ronnie Bar-On. Last week, it was revealed that Bar-On apparently committed a crime by voting for another MK in the Knesset four years ago. "Livni is presenting a false pretense to the public of being clean when she has tolerated lawbreakers in her party," Livnat said. "Whenever it's not comfortable for her to insist on political cleanliness, she is silent. She wanted to bring new, clean politics, but she has done the opposite." The Labor Party released a statement criticizing Livni for not keeping her promise of "a different kind of politics" by insisting that Ramon run. Kadima spokesman Shmuelik Dahan called Labor's statement "pathetic." Kadima MK Amira Dotan, who, as the IDF's first female brigadier-general headed its Women's Corps, criticized Prime Minister Ehud Olmert for facilitating Ramon's return to the cabinet following the community service he served for his conviction. But she said she had no problem with him running now and that it would be up to Kadima's voters to decide whether he was worthy of remaining in the Knesset. Ramon's spokesman declined to respond to the criticism. He released a statement on Friday night saying he decided to run because as one of the founders of Kadima, he wanted it to remain the ruling party. "Haim Ramon was and will be an important and central force in Kadima and in the battle against the Likud," Livni said after meeting with him at his home, adding that she expected him to win a high spot on the party's Knesset list. Sunday is the deadline for candidates to announce that they will run in Kadima's primary. The deadline for the Likud is Tuesday. Former prime minister Yitzhak Shamir's son, Israel Aerospace Industries chairman Yair Shamir, and attorney Ze'ev Jabotinsky, the grandson and namesake of the Likud's ideological mentor, are both expected to join the race ahead of the deadline.