Knesset Okays 3-year Cooling-off Period for Security Officials

Gideon Alon
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Gideon Alon

The Knesset plenum on Monday approved in a second and third reading a new law requiring a three-year cooling-off period for senior security officials interested in running for Knesset or for a position in the cabinet.

According to the new law, army officers with a rank of major general and lieutenent general, senior officials in the Shin Bet and the Mossad, and Israel Police officers or Prisons Authority wardens with a rank of major general or above must now wait three years before contending for a seat in the Knesset or for a position as minister or prime minister.

Before the law was passed, senior officers in the Israel Defense Forces, Israel Police, Prisons Authority, the Mossad and the Shin Bet were required to wait only six months before running for office in the Knesset or cabinet.

The law, which was proposed by MKs Yuval Steinitz (Likud) and Avshalom Vilan (Meretz), was approved by a majority of 56-5.

"This is a big day for Israeli democracy," said Steinitz. "For the first time, we have positioned a wall between the IDF and politics. I have no doubt that now the process of politicizing the IDF will stop." One significance of the new law is that retired IDF Chief of Staff Dan Halutz will now have to wait three years before running for Knesset or the cabinet.

MK Vilan added that the goal of the new law was to prevent the dangerous politicization of the defense establishment, to ensure that a high-ranking army commander would not use his army career to prepare for a future in politics.