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Monday, May 12, 2008

Knesset looks for a way to send Olmert home without disbanding

YNet is reporting that the Knesset is looking for a way to send Prime Minister Ehud K. Olmert home without the necessity for a vote to disband the Knesset. Under the terms of a bill proposed by National Union/National Religious Party MK Zevulun Orlev and Meretz chairman Yossi Beilin, the Knesset would clarify the circumstances under which a Prime Minister is required to take a 100-day temporary leave of absence, such that Olmert would be required to take one. If the Prime Minister cannot return after the 100 days (which they also propose extending to 150), his absence would be viewed as permanent. But the authority to decide that Olmert 'needs' a temporary leave of absence would no longer be left to Olmert alone. The Knesset or the Attorney General would also have the power to decide that he must take a leave of absence.
"The prime minister's current situation – which calls for him to invest a lot of time and effort into the investigation against him while attempting to run the most complicated country in the Middle East and perhaps the entire world – sheds light on the legislative branch's need for tools with which it can supervise the executive branch and say its piece, even in cases like this," Orlev explained.

The bill, meant to clear up some of the confusion surrounding the issue of the case against Olmert, is scheduled to be submitted to the Knesset within the next few days. The current law states that if the prime minister is prevented from fulfilling his duties, his deputy should substitute for him. If, after 100 days, the prime minister still cannot return to office, he should be viewed as permanently absent.

However, the law does not state the reasons for which the prime minister should take a temporary leave of absence, nor does it name a specific party responsible for determining such a move. "In light of this, a list of cases determining when the prime minister should take a leave of absence should be drawn up," Orlev continued. "Including medical conditions, criminal investigations, personal reasons, and such.

"If one of these conditions is fulfilled, the bill grants the prime minister permission to take a leave of absence of 100 days or less. The bill also grants the attorney general similar rights, to impose the leave of absence upon the prime minister and also to determine the time of his return to office, if and when he sees fit, during the 100 day time period."

Beilin and Orlev also wanted to give the Knesset the authority to decide on a temporary leave of absence, as long as the vote shows a majority of 61 MKs, and this is the bill's main objective. It will also extend the leave to 150 days, as opposed to the 100 days currently allotted.

"Currently I am against moving the elections up, in order not to stall the political progress. A temporary leave of absence is the most suitable move for this situation," Beilin said.

Orlev disagreed, saying, "Olmert has lost the faith of the people and the moral and ethical authority to serve as prime minister, and therefore the elections should be moved up."
Orlev and Beilin are from opposite ends of the political spectrum, but they are also two of the Knesset's cleaner members. It's not clear to me what will happen under their bill after the leave period ends. At that point, Tzipi Livni would presumably be Prime Minister and the Knesset would still have to decide whether to disband and call new elections. But 100 - and certainly 150 - days ought to be enough time for Kadima to tear itself apart and insist on holding primaries and that ought to get the rest of the Knesset to get up the guts to vote for new elections. But let's see this bill get through the Knesset first. You can bet that Olmert will fight it tooth and nail and that he may drag the government down with him to avoid it.


At 7:42 PM, Blogger Ma Sands said...

I must've missed it --what'd he do?!

Besides the gathering cloud of inefficiency so many speak of.....

Ma Sands

At 10:34 PM, Blogger Kae Gregory said...

Since they are so good at just making the rules up as they go, why don't they just declare themselves rulers for life? 'Laws? We don't need no stinking laws!"

At 5:15 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Ehud Olmert isn't Mr. Clean - and come to think of it, in his brief and undistinguished tenure as Prime Minister, he has never advanced a government reform measure. That says it all.


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