Ministers Okay Bill to Keep Some Convicted MKs Out of Cabinet

Israeli legislators must avoid prison terms of more than six months if moral turpitude is attached.

Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel
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Revital Hovel
Revital Hovel

The Ministerial Committee for Legislation approved a bill Sunday that lays down the law on convictions that exclude MKs from serving in the cabinet.

The bill bars any MK who has been sentenced to a prison term of more than six months if the offense involves moral turpitude.

The legislation now goes to the Knesset for a preliminary vote.

The bill is an amendment to the Basic Law on the Government (1992), which lets an MK convicted of an offense involving moral turpitude serve in the cabinet seven years after the conviction.

The bill was sponsored by MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor), a former head of the police’s investigations division. Mizrahi was dismissed from his post in 2004 after then-Attorney General Elyakim Rubinstein suspected that Mizrahi had ordered excessive wiretaps on MK Avigdor Lieberman (Yisrael Beiteinu), now foreign minister.

“Today every reputable workplace demands a good-conduct certificate from its employees, while in the Israeli government, which should be an example for all its citizens, elected officials with a criminal past can serve as cabinet ministers,” said Mizrahi. “This absurd situation is neither acceptable nor ethical.”

The bill is also supported by MKs David Tsur (Hatnuah), Miki Rosenthal (Labor) and Tamar Zandberg (Meretz). Tsur is a retired major general in the Israel Police.

If the bill becomes law, Shas leader Aryeh Deri is one politician who would be banned from serving in the cabinet. Deri, then interior minister, was convicted of taking bribes over a decade ago.

Noting the many cases where MKs have been convicted of offenses involving moral turpitude, the preamble states that the bill seeks “to preserve the government’s dignity and status in the public’s eyes and preserve the public’s faith in the government.” A similar bill was proposed in the previous Knesset by MK Tzipi Hotovely (Likud), now deputy transportation minister.

Shas leader Arye DeryCredit: Olivier Fitoussi

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