Olmert win could catapult capital's former top cop

Word making its way around the city and police is that Olmert would like to see Levy appointed next police inspector-general.

The fortunes of former Jerusalem police chief Mickey Levy are seen as dramatically improving by the expected election victory of Acting Prime Minister Ehud Olmert later this month. The word making its way around the city and police, being dubbed "the Mickey Levy theory," is that Olmert would like to see Levy appointed as the next police inspector-general. The 55-year-old Levy had desperately sought that job just two years ago, only to be passed over by then Internal Security Minister Tzahi Hanegbi whose appointment of Moshe Karadi, a relatively young and little-known commander as the nation's top cop over more senior police chiefs was met with some surprise by senior police brass and many Jerusalemites. A deeply disappointed Levy, who rose to the epicenter of public attention in his role as indefatigable city police chief at the height of the wave of Palestinian suicide bombings that rocked the capital, was subsequently appointed Israel police's representative to Washington. That plush two-to-three-year job was considered to be his consolation prize and swan song before retiring after two and a half decades of police service, capped by his term as Jerusalem police chief which included 22 suicide bombings and one heart attack. Before leaving Jerusalem two years ago, Levy made clear, however, that he was going to be in the running for the next Jerusalem mayoral elections, scheduled for 2008. The message: he may have been down but he was by no means out. In a bitter twist of irony, months after Levy set out for the US capital, Hanegbi, who had passed over Levy in choosing a police inspector-general, was forced to resign from his job as internal security minister due to still-pending criminal investigations against him. In the meantime, it appeared that both Levy and Jerusalem opposition leader Nir Barkat would face off in the next mayoral election against a haredi candidate such as Jerusalem Mayor Uri Lupolianski, who has given mixed indications on whether he would step down after completing his five-year term, but who was clearly poised to benefit by the fact that that the secular city vote would be divided between the two men. But in the last month, as Olmert emerged as the leading candidate for the premiership after Prime Minister Ariel Sharon was felled by a massive stroke in January, the ever-changing political tables have turned again. Levy has suddenly reemerged as the leading candidate for the position he so coveted, with Olmert - his longtime friend and city colleague from his days as Jerusalem mayor - poised to become Israel's premier. If Levy gets the nod from Olmert, as is widely expected, it will make things much easier for Barkat, who himself has tried to tag on to the Olmert team in the last couple months and was recently appointed the head of Kadima's campaign headquarters in Jerusalem, all in the hope of getting the nod from the man expected to be premier when it comes time for the Jerusalem mayoral elections. In contrast to Olmert's warm relationship with Levy, Olmert had always been tepid at best when it comes to Barkat, with such an endorsement far from certain. Levy's exit from a future mayoral race for the position of chief of police could prove to be a great boon for Barkat.