The cabinet on Sunday approved changes to government
regulations that will give greater authority over ministerial decisions
to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
The regulations, which have
remained unchanged since 1948, dictate how the government determines
policy. Changes to the regulations, laid out in a 51-page document
compiled by Cabinet Secretary Tzvi Hauser, give Netanyahu the power to
set the agenda for ministerial committee meetings - calling meetings on
certain issues or cancelling meetings as he sees fit. This clause of the regulations gives the prime minister the ability to bring
an issue to a committee vote repeatedly in hopes of eventually winning
approval, or conversely of keeping an issue off the table indefinitely
if he so desires.
In addition, the changes will allow Netanyahu
to veto decisions made by ministerial committees or overturn a
committee's veto until an issue is raised again for discussion.
will also be entitled to hold ministerial votes over the telephone over
the course of up to 12 hours, but will also be allowed to shorten the
time frame at his discretion.
"The current move further
destabilizes the prime minister's decision-making process," opposition
leader Shaul Mofaz (Kadima) stated. "We have crucial decisions ahead of
us, and dealing with procedure to weaken opposing voices only increases
the fear that decisions are being made with a lack of judgment."
According to the opposition leader, Netanyahu is "attempting to hide behind regulations," and will not succeed.
is a move to avoid opinions opposing those of the prime minister – in
other words, the defense establishment of the past and present," Mofaz, a
former IDF chief of staff, said.
A high-ranking Likud source
scoffed at Mofaz and others for speculating that the reason behind
Netanyahu's move for increased authority is Iran.
"This is not as
big a deal as people are making of it," the source said, pointing out
that ministers were notified of the vote on Wednesday, and the details
were posted on the government website for the public to see on Thursday.
leader Shelly Yechimovich on Sunday lambasted the changes,
calling them an unprecedented, dangerous step that concentrates
government power in the hands of one person.
decisions on policy, defense and socio-economic matters are bound to be
obligatorily accepted without meaningful discussion," Yechimovich said.
"We are talking about centralizing moves that endanger the democratic
nature of the State of Israel."
Hauser rejected speculation that
the changes are part of a ploy by Netanyahu to increase his
legal powers in the face of a potential strike against Iran's nuclear
Hauser said in an interview with Army Radio that the
regulations had not been changed since 1948 and the changes were merely
slight reformulations and edits meant to standardize the de facto
He stated that the changes had been in the works for a year-and-a-half and were sanctioned by the attorney-general.