Despite the fact that the so-called “Ashkenazi bill” fell unanimously in the ministerial committee on legislation, politicians are continuing to discuss the possibility that former IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Gabi Ashkenazi will join one of the major parties soon.
According to the so-called Halutz Law, IDF officers with a rank of major-general and lieutenant-general, and senior officials in the Shin Bet, Mossad, Israel Police and Prisons Service with a rank equivalent to major-general or above, must wait three years before contending for a seat in the Knesset. Before the law named after former IDF chief of General Staff Lt.-Gen. (res.) Dan Halutz was passed four years ago, they only had to wait six months.
Efforts to change the law to enable Ashkenazi to run for the next Knesset have not succeeded. The so-called “Ashkenazi bill” would have cut the waiting period to a year and a half.
President Shimon Peres has expressed his opposition to the Halutz Law on several occasions, saying "those who are trusted to lead the IDF and the security establishment should be trusted not to let political considerations interfere with their work before they step down.
"It would be a shame to lose a man such as Ashkenazi, who has many capabilities and leadership skills. Ashkenazi should be a part of the public system," said Peres.
Several politicians, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak, feel threatened by Ashkenazi's popularity and would like to see the beginning of his political career delayed as much as possible. Political sources estimated that Barak convinced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to instruct Likud members of the ministerial committee on legislation to vote against the Ashkenazi bill.
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