Photo: AP
Prime Minister Ehud Olmert
Photo: AP
Bill initiator MK Zevulun Orlev
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Knesset may be granted authority to send Olmert home

New bill proposal would see Knesset wielding power to force prime minister on temporary leave of absence in event of personal, criminal implications

A new bill could, if passed, allow the Knesset to force Prime Minister Ehud Olmert to take a temporary leave of absence. A 61 MK majority would be required. The bill was put forward by MK Zevulun Orlev (National Union-NRP) and MK Yossi Beilin (Meretz).


"The prime minister's current situation – which calls for him to invest a lot of time and effort into the investigation against him while attempting to run the most complicated country in the Middle East and perhaps the entire world – sheds light on the legislative branch's need for tools with which it can supervise the executive branch and say its piece, even in cases like this," Orlev explained.


The bill, meant to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the issue of the case against Olmert, is scheduled to be submitted to the Knesset within the next few days. The current law states that if the prime minister is prevented from fulfilling his duties, his deputy should substitute for him. If, after 100 days, the prime minister still cannot return to office, he should be viewed as permanently absent.


However, the law does not state the reasons for which the prime minister should take a temporary leave of absence, nor does it name a specific party responsible for determining such a move. "In light of this, a list of cases determining when the prime minister should take a leave of absence should be drawn up," Orlev continued. "Including medical conditions, criminal investigations, personal reasons, and such.


"If one of these conditions is fulfilled, the bill grants the prime minister permission to take a leave of absence of 100 days or less. The bill also grants the attorney general similar rights, to impose the leave of absence upon the prime minister and also to determine the time of his return to office, if and when he sees fit, during the 100 day time period."


Beilin and Orlev also wanted to give the Knesset the authority to decide on a temporary leave of absence, as long as the vote shows a majority of 61 MKs, and this is the bill's main objective. It will also extend the leave to 150 days, as opposed to the 100 days currently allotted.


"Currently I am against moving the elections up, in order not to stall the political progress. A temporary leave of absence is the most suitable move for this situation," Beilin said.


Orlev disagreed, saying, "Olmert has lost the faith of the people and the moral and ethical authority to serve as prime minister, and therefore the elections should be moved up."


פרסום ראשון: 05.12.08, 17:38
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