Hotovely strikes to stop Olmert from running

Likud MK requests the central elections commission disqualify former prime minister from running in upcoming Knesset elections.

Ehud Olmert speaks following verdict (photo credit: Screenshot)
Ehud Olmert speaks following verdict
(photo credit: Screenshot)
Likud MK Tzipi Hotovely on Wednesday requested that the central elections commission disqualify former prime minister Ehud Olmert from running for office in the upcoming Knesset elections.
Hotovely’s grounds for asking Justice Elyakim Rubinstein (who heads the election commission) to disqualify Olmert are the actions for which he was convicted in the Investment Affair – since they constitute moral turpitude.
The law regarding moral turpitude states that where such a finding is made, the person in question cannot run for election for seven years.
Only a few weeks ago, the Jerusalem District Court accepted the state prosecution’s position to forgo deciding on the issue of moral turpitude as long as it was merely theoretical and without any concrete impact.
At the time, Olmert had formally renounced all of his state privileges as a former prime minister, including staffing and payment of a variety of costs. Since there were no elections on the horizon, the court said it would leave the issue for a later date, possibly even to a different public judicial body.
Speaking on condition of anonymity, state prosecution sources indicated they had passed on the issue because if Olmert tried to run again, they knew it would be raised in one or more legal forums.
However, following Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s announcement of new elections Tuesday night and former minister Haim Ramon’s public statements Wednesday that he was seeking to recruit Olmert to lead a Center-Left bloc, Hotovely decided that the issue was no longer theoretical.
In her letter to the commission, the Likud legislator noted that while Olmert had been convicted of one crime of breaching public trust in the Investment Affair, the affair itself included four separate actions of breach of public trust. She also noted the court’s statement that Olmert’s conviction had not been merely technical, but was one of the most serious crimes according to special legislation regarding public servants.
Hotovely said that “elections are the time to strengthen the public’s faith in the political system.”She added that “even if he has some marginal support,” the “return of an offender convicted of corruption while in public office seriously harms the Knesset’s position” in the public eye.
The Likud MK also said that Olmert’s attempted return would be even more problematic since “the ink still isn’t dry” on his conviction.
Reacting to Hotovely’s announcement, Kadima MK Yoel Hasson said that “Hotovely and her colleagues are becoming hysterical” and are “revealing their true thoughts.”
“Suddenly they realize that the possible return of Olmert represents an alternative to Netanyahu,” and that is what the public “has been thirsting for,” said Hasson.
Ultimately, “the public will decide” whether or not Olmert returns to power by voting, said Hasson, “not Hotovely and her extremist colleagues.”
In an interview with Army Radio, Kadima MK Dalia Itzik, commenting on the possible return of Olmert, said, “I want to see him as prime minister of Israel.”
“At this point we need to put fanaticism and ego to one side, consider how to team up with each other and to think how to do our best for Israel,” Itzik said.
Hotovely’s move is somewhat surprising since Olmert himself has made no official announcement about running.
Therefore, it would be a stretch for the commission to preemptively invalidate his candidacy when the Jerusalem District Court declined to do so, regardless of the media firestorm surrounding comments on his potential candidacy.
Regardless of the outcome, the move could be significant as it could further highlight the corruption conviction before the public.
Olmert is no messiah needed by the nation to save it, said a source close to Hotovely, noting that the MK’s request had nothing to do with a candidate being from the Left or the Right. Rather, it was about observing a certain standard.