Knesset panel approves measure that could reduce chances for Olmert comeback

Bill would double ‘cooling off ’ period to 14 years for pols found guilty of crimes involving moral turpitude.

Olmert in court on day of sentencing, May 13 (photo credit: YOTAM RONEN)
Olmert in court on day of sentencing, May 13
(photo credit: YOTAM RONEN)
The Knesset Constitution, Law and Justice Committee on Wednesday approved a bill that would stymie any political comeback for former prime minister Ehud Olmert.
The bill, which can now be voted on for a first reading by the full Knesset, would double the cooling off period for returning to politics as a minister or deputy minister for certain convicted politicians from seven years to 14 years.
Until now, a politician convicted of a crime along with a finding of moral turpitude and a punishment involving some prison time could not return to politics until seven years after his release.
If the current bill is passed, that period will be doubled.
For example, current Shas party chairman Arye Deri was convicted of bribery with jail time in 2000, was released in 2002 and could not return to politics until 2009 (though he waited until 2011).
Olmert, 69, who was sentenced in May to six years in prison due to start in September on a bribery conviction, under current law, would serve his six years until September 2020 and then would need to wait until 2027 to return to politics. If the bill is passed, he would need to wait until 2034, when he is 89.
While 82 already was a longshot, and his prison sentence (if not overturned on an expected appeal) might not start for several months or even beyond a year, there was always a chance that his sentence could be reduced for good behavior and 82 was not out of the question.
Eighty-nine would not only be older than even the oldest of Israeli politicians to enter office, it would mean he would have been effectively out of politics and out of the loop for 25 years.
Though the bill would apply to Olmert and any politicians currently in prison, any politicians who are released from prison before it becomes law would retain onto the seven- year cooling-off period.
MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor) said, “We would expect Knesset members to have a clean criminal record. Did we ever imagine that persons with a criminal past would sit in the Knesset, and possibly even serve as ministers?”