The Bottom Line / Lawmakers don't need to cool off too?
The conscientious Knesset passed a law last month requiring senior Israel Defense Forces officers to wait three years between military and political careers. This law applies to officers at the rank of major general or lieutenant general and their equivalents in the Shin Bet, Mossad and the Israel Police. The law was initiated by Knesset members Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), and was approved by a large majority.
The law's intent is to reduce the politicization of the IDF and the value of forming "friendships" with senior politicians, such as the special relationship between Dan Halutz and the Sharon family, which led to Halutz's appointment as chief of staff.
This law looks reasonable, but Steinitz and Vilan forgot one small clause that affects them - the politicians. They should have added a clause imposing a cooling-off period for politicians - MKs or ministers - who leave for the business world. This omission presents an even more serious risk of conflict of interest. After all, MKs vote in important committees and ministers rub shoulders with businessmen. This creates a serious conflict of interest, and presents the possibility that MKs are preparing their next job. One example is the quick switch, without any cooling-off period, by MK (and former health minister) Danny Naveh to investment dealings in the health sector at Nochi Dankner's IDB Group.
It would therefore appear that one of the MKs' motives in voting with such enthusiasm for this cooling-off period for former IDF officers was to prevent competition from those very officers. The fact remains that none of them suggested a cooling-off period for themselves. This is nothing but a case of suddenly forgetting principles when a matter concerns oneself.
A little over four years ago the Tal Law went into effect. That law was initiated by then prime minister Ehud Barak. Being a former chief of staff, and an analytical person, he analyzed the situation and concluded that the law would result in the massive conscription of ultra-Orthodox men into the IDF.
The law, however, is having the opposite effect because it grants the ultra-Orthodox explicit permission not to serve. The reality is that only 355 young ultra-Orthodox men have entered the IDF's ranks via the Tal Law, while there are currently 50,000 yeshiva students for whom "Torah is their vocation." We have not forgotten that one of the Tal Commission's members who enthusiastically supported the commission's analytical solution is none other than the current social affairs minister, Isaac Herzog. Do these men have any regrets today?
At a Knesset session 10 days ago, when the discussion turned to the Nahari Law on the transfer of budgets from the state religious education system to the independent schools run by Shas and United Torah Judaism, Education Minister Yuli Tamir sharply objected. She said the impact of the bill would be state financing not only for Shas schools, but for those run by Hamas and the Islamic Movement, as well as the promotion of private education. Fighting words.
What did Tamir say a year ago, when the Supreme Court ruled - with great justification - that the state does not have to fund lunches for children whose parents have chosen to remove them from the main camp?
Tamir said Justice Mishael Cheshin, who headed the ruling panel, was mistaken. She felt that lunches should be provided for all children, including in the unrecognized independent schools run by Shas, UTJ, private ultra-Orthodox groups that do not recognize the state, and Islamic organizations that run preschools and elementary schools in the Arab sector.
So a year ago, Tamir was "good." She wanted to give to everyone. Now she understands that those who do not fulfill their obligations and do not consent to teaching even the "core curriculum" are not eligible for taxpayer money. Does she now regret her position from a year ago?
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