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