Israel should have a law requiring prime ministers to consult with the Knesset
before military operations, Meretz leader Zehava Gal-On said Saturday night
after US President Barack Obama said he would consult with Congress before
engaging in military action against Syria.
Gal-On called this “very
significant.” She brought up a bill she proposed last year that would require
the government to go to a Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Subcommittee for
approval before going to war.
Under the current law, the Meretz leader
pointed out, “the government only reports to the Knesset after the fact,” adding
that her bill would add an external examination before hasty decisions are made,
without harming secrecy when needed.
Though Gal-On proposed the
legislation over a year ago, it has yet to be brought to a ministerial or
“Think about the way military decisions beyond our
borders are decided upon in Israel: The authority is completely in the hands of
the government, which delegates it to the security cabinet, which passes it on
to a smaller group of ministers and then the ‘kitchen table’ and at the end of
the day, two or three people decide alone, in the dead of night, the fateful
decision to attack a foreign country, which could lead to a total war, without
any additional factor raising doubts,” Gal-On wrote on Facebook.
Meretz leader pointed to the Second Lebanon War as an example of a decision made
by a very small group of people without hearing any opposition
While Gal-On said she doesn’t think every military action needs
the Knesset’s approval, because it would be “unreasonable for obvious reasons,”
the legislature should be able to supervise strategic decisions by the
Gal-On’s bill is inspired in part by US law. Under the US
Constitution, Congress has the power to declare war and control war funding,
while the president is commander-inchief of the military and leads the armed
forces. He also has the power to veto a congressional declaration of war, like
any other act of Congress.
The US War Powers Resolution of 1973 is a
federal law stating that the president may only send forces to an armed conflict
abroad following a declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization” or
“a national emergency created by attack upon the United States.”