MKs within the coalition on Tuesday defended and attacked the possibility of changing the system of government, in a series of committee meetings on the Knesset’s status.

The discussions, initiated by Deputy Foreign Minister Danny Ayalon (Israel Beiteinu), included a Knesset House Committee meeting on whether ministers should be able to serve simultaneously as MKs, a Knesset Immigration, Absorption and Diaspora Committee meeting on how immigrants view the government and a plenum debate.

According to Ayalon, a better system would allow for better governance and help the country meet challenges such as expensive housing and “sharing the burden equally,” a reference to lower employment and IDF service rates among haredim and Arabs.

The deputy foreign minister also pointed out that changing the system of government has been a part of Israel Beiteinu’s platform for more than a decade and is part of the coalition agreement.

As to whether the event was set for this week due to aspiring politician Yair Lapid’s speech last week, in which he called to raise the election threshold from the current 2 percent of votes cast, Ayalon said that he had proposed holding the meeting six months ago and scheduled it according to the Knesset secretariat’s preferences.

Ayalon and Israel Beiteinu advocate a presidential system, similar to that in the US, which the deputy minister said would make checks and balances more effective and further separate the executive and legislative branches of the government. In addition, Ayalon said such a system would make leaders less subject to pressure from the coalition.

Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin, however, called changing the system of government “a false enchantment that will shatter the Knesset.”

He acknowledged the lack of public confidence in the Knesset, but said the legislature is beginning to undergo a renaissance, explaining that last summer’s social protests have been turned into parliamentary action.

“We are sick of the attempts to change the parliamentary system,” Rivlin said in the plenum, addressing his remarks at Ayalon. “Parliamentary democracy is the air we breathe, and there is no replacement for it.”

According to the Knesset speaker, the current system is the only one that can include the many groups in Israeli society.

MK Einat Wilf (Independence) also slammed the idea of changing the system of government, saying that “every democracy has problems of governance, because ruling over free people is difficult.”

She pointed out at the House Committee meeting that the US system also faces criticism, and that Israelis cannot be blind to its problems just because they only see its foreign policies.

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