Yesh Atid Petitions Court to End ‘Cooling Off’ Period for Generals

Former IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz, seen during a contemplative moment, on April 03, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

A Yesh Atid MK has petitioned the High Court to strike down a law requiring retired Israeli IDF generals to wait at least three years before entering politics, according to The Jerusalem Post.

The first prominent beneficiary of nullifying the so-called “cooling-off period” would be former IDF chief Benny Gantz, who has been discussed as a possible addition to either Yesh Atid or Zionist Union.

The law, which was passed in 2007, is said to have worked to the advantage of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, keeping certain ex-generals who could have been threatening to him politically, out of the arena.

The bill’s sponsor was the current Energy Minister Yuval Steinitz, a longtime ally of Netanyahu’s, and at the time it was aimed preventing former IDF chief of staff Dan Halutz, among others, from a quick switch from the senior military echelon to the senior civilian echelon.

Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern and former IAF commander Eliezer Shkedi, who brought the petition on Tuesday, argue that the law as it stands is discriminatory.

Meanwhile, Gantz has done what many of his predecessors have done: gone into business. He heads the Israeli cyber technology firm Fifth Dimension, and he has been active in philanthropic work.

Despite the designs of center-left parties, Gantz has resisted attempts to identify him politically.

In 2016, he said: “I have not made a decision to enter politics. I have not made a decision to not enter politics. I know they are trying to color me in various colors, but I am sorry, no painter has hit the target.”

Gantz stepped down as chief of staff on February 16, 2015, which means he would not have much time to wait before entering politics. But as the clouds of early elections gather, his prospective political sponsors are impatient to remove the legal obstacle as soon as possible.

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