Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's abrupt need for surgery reinforced the need
for Israel to have a law indicating who takes power in such circumstances,
former Knesset speaker MK Reuven Rivlin said on Sunday.
When Ariel Sharon
was prime minister, he appointed Ehud Olmert as his vice prime minister, a title
that granted him the automatic right to take over for Sharon when he was abroad
or physically unable to perform his duties.
Netanyahu has not given any
of his ministers that title in this term or the previous one, in part because he
wanted to avoid initiating a succession battle between politicians inside his
Because there is no vice prime minister, cabinet secretary
Avichai Mandelblit had to conduct a poll of ministers by telephone late on
Saturday night to approve the appointment of Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon as
acting prime minister during Netanyahu’s hernia surgery. When Netanyahu has gone
abroad in this term, he has given the acting prime minister post to Ya’alon or
International Relations Minister Yuval Steinitz, and when he went to Poland with
Ya’alon and Steinitz, to Public Security Minister Yitzhak
Rivlin said prime ministers should be obligated to appoint a
vice prime minister to avoid situations like Saturday night’s, when ministers
had to be woken up to vote on a technical matter. He recommended passing a law
to mandate such a change.
“From a legislative point of view, we should
decide who the acting prime minister is when the prime minister does not appoint
one,” Rivlin said.
It was Rivlin who persuaded Sharon to appoint as his
vice prime minister Olmert, who had been Rivlin’s sworn political enemy for
decades. Rivlin made the suggestion in order to solve a dispute inside the Likud
at the time, not knowing that the move would lead to the coronation of his
None of the current electoral reform proposals that are in the
process of passing in the Knesset deal with the issue of succession. But
previous Knessets tried unsuccessfully to pass bills that would clarify the
The Movement for Quality Government wrote Netanyahu two months ago
urging him to appoint a vice prime minister.
His office responded to the
organization that he had no legal obligation to do so.
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