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haim ramon hand on head.(Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Ramon on way back to cabinet
Gil Stern Stern Hoffman
Ramon completed a sentence of 120 hours of community service over the weekend at a horse farm in Tel Mond.
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert met with former justice minister Haim Ramon at Olmert's Jerusalem residence Friday and discussed the possibility of him returning to the cabinet as finance minister or in another capacity, sources close to the two men said Monday. Monday was the deadline for Attorney-General Menachem Mazuz to appeal the Tel Aviv District Court's ruling that Ramon's conviction for kissing a 20-year-old soldier against her will did not involve moral turpitude. Mazuz announced in a letter to a coalition of women's organizations that he did not intend to appeal the ruling, clearing the way for Ramon's return to the cabinet. Ramon completed a sentence of 120 hours of community service over the weekend at a horse farm in Tel Mond. He is expected to return to active work as an MK later this week and to the cabinet after the May 28 Labor primary, when Olmert intends to reshuffle his ministers. "From our standpoint, there is no longer any reason not to appoint him," a source close to Olmert said. "Haim will decide when he wants to return and we also will decide when and if he should be appointed." The source said Olmert and Ramon met without any advisers present. The return of Ramon to the cabinet would give the prime minister a big political boost, because he served Olmert as a close political adviser and ally before his legal woes. And many Treasury projects have been stalled ever since Finance Minister Avraham Hirchson suspended himself last month due to an embezzlement investigation. Dorit Abramowitz, a spokeswoman for the women's organizations, accused Mazuz of misleading them. She said they delayed an anti-Ramon campaign, because the attorney-general gave them the impression that he would appeal the moral turpitude ruling, a decision that would have extended Ramon's legal battle and kept him out of the cabinet for up to two years. Abramowitz said the campaign would begin immediately under the banner "No sexual offense lacks moral turpitude." She vowed to block Ramon's appointment to the cabinet in the High Court of Justice. "It is very grave that Mazuz has decided to collaborate with a sex offender's return to the government," Abramowitz said.
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