Senior Likud Minister Dan Meridor urged former prime minister Ehud Olmert to abandon the idea of a political comeback ahead of January’s elections, saying it was “inappropriate” for a man who had recently been convicted of a criminal offense and was still embroiled in corruption allegations to return to public life.

“I’m not an adviser to Olmert, but in my opinion it’s not appropriate” for him to run in the forthcoming elections, Meridor said Saturday, noting the former prime minister’s July breach of trust conviction, the fact that he is among the defendants in the ongoing Holyland real estate scandal, and the news that the state prosecution has appealed his acquittal in two other major corruption cases. “I don’t think someone in his situation should run for election, even if it’s legally permissible; it’s not appropriate.”

Speaking on Channel 2, Meridor, a deputy prime minister and minister for intelligence affairs, said he hoped Olmert’s legal troubles would end “successfully” so that he could eventually return to public life. For now, he said, “there is the public, and children, who need to see the legal cleanliness of our political leadership.”

Olmert has hinted repeatedly that he might seek to make a comeback as the head of a center-left party. He has also increasingly castigated Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in recent weeks, for his handling of the Palestinian issue, his policies in the struggle to thwart Iran’s nuclear drive, and for damaging Israel by allegedly intervening in the American elections by clearly favoring Republican challenger Mitt Romney over successfully reelected incumbent Barack Obama.

Meridor also said he was “unenthusiastic” about Netanyahu’s decision to merge the Likud with Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu on a joint list for the Knesset elections. But he said he was certain the prime minister intended to maintain the Likud in its current independent format, and that he will be seeking a spot on the Knesset slate.