Bill Would Mandate 'Cool-off' for Top Pols

Could former prime minister Ehud Olmert lose his plum job before he even starts?

A bill recently submitted by Labor MK Daniel Ben Simon would block former heads of state, such as presidents and prime ministers, from conducting any business for personal gain for three years after the end of their term.

If the bill passes, Olmert would have to forgo his new appointment as chairman of the Livnat Group as well as the consulting fees he collects from his buddy, businessman Benny Steinmetz, and make do with his state pension of NIS 37,000 a month.

The bill aims to compel retired heads of state to participate in not-for-profit civic activities of their choice for three consecutive years following their tenure, Ben Simon said.

In addition, it would mandate that heads of state who chose to return to their former private businesses after the cooling off period will have to waive the benefits to which they had been entitled under the law - such as medical services, office services, a car and driver, and other perks. Former prime ministers are entitled these services for a period of five years following retirement, and former presidents for seven years.

Ben Simon said it is unethical and inappropriate for heads of state - who until retiring had served their country and its citizens - to take advantage of their public standing and the contacts they established over the course of their duties for great personal gain.

"I would like to see our heads of state doing what [Bill] Clinton and [Jimmy] Carter do today," Ben Simon said. "These are figureheads who, from the moment they completed their state duties, went on invest all of their time in civic activity. Here [in Israel], public figures who come to the end of their tender go on to work for their own personal gain."