On December 25, 2002, Judge Misha'el Kheshin, the head of the Israeli electoral commission, ruled that Reserve Brigadier General Shaul Mofaz, current Defence Minister and Chief of Staff until August 11, 2002, could not be included in a list of candidates on the upcoming January 28, 2003 general elections. The decision requires the approval of the electoral commission on January 3, 2003.

Shaul Mofaz was the IDF Chief of Staff. This node is not about his term, though. It's about Kheshin's reasoning behind his decision.

Israeli law requires that senior army officers "cool down" for 6 months after retirement, before they can be elected to the Knesset. When Mofaz retired, he had no way of knowing that elections would be held so soon -- Ariel Sharon's government was still stable, and the planned elections were many months away. Nonetheless, on August 11, 2002, Mofaz decided to cut short his paid retirement leave and discharge himself from the IDF. He may already have been after political office, as his appointment soon after as Defence Minister may show. But we don't know. What we do know is that 6 months from August 11, 2002 comes up on February 11, 2002 -- too late to be elected.

The public sector in Israel pays by the month. In particular, you cannot be salaried for 11 days of the month and pensioned for the remaining days. In keeping with some old custom or tradition, the army's head of retirement offered Mofaz to be listed -- for pension purposes -- as having been discharged July 31, 2002. That way he'd get pensioned for the entire month of August.

When Mofaz announced his intentions of running for the Knesset, his political opponents naturally pointed out he'd retired too late to run in the upcoming elections. With the half-hearted backing of the Attorney General and the IDF Attorney General, Mofaz decided to claim he had, in fact, retired on July 31, 2002, and could therefore run for Knesset.

July 31, 2002 + 6 months == January 31, 2003...
... too late to be elected.

Still not good enough. But Mofaz added the claim that one could interpret 6 months by the Hebrew calendar, and that by that reckoning he could run. This claim was backed by both AGs. And as regards a person's right to seek to apply his rights, the state should go with the more liberal interpretation -- Mofaz and his backers claimed.

Mofaz's claims were thus twofold:

  1. He'd be released on July 31, 2002.
  2. He could count by the Hebrew calendar.
Kheshin didn't bother much with claim "b". Of claim "a", however, he used some of his famed flowery legal language: (my translation)
There is no argument that Colonel Zaretski [head of retirement] had neither the authority nor the power to put Mofaz in the time machine of the miraculous tunnel that sends a man to the past.
We have no way of knowing whether or not Kheshin just revealed the existence of some top secret time machine. But even if the IDF has such a device, the use to which Mofaz tried to put it was an unauthorized use of a time machine. And in legal matters, unauthorized governmental action cannot count for much -- the government must always have legal backing for all its actions.

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