In a special report released on Wednesday, State Comptroller Micha Lindenstrauss
criticized a litany of failures in the implementation of the 2008 National
Security Council Law, and noted that as a result, the NSC had not played the
central role it should have in the Turkish Mavi Marmara flotilla decision-making
The report blamed Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for failing
to fully implement the law after the Knesset passed it almost four years ago.
Established by government decree in 1999, the NSC was intended to act as a staff
forum for the prime minister and his government for foreign and national
The NSC Law set out the NSC’s functions, including to
act as a central advisory body to the prime minister and his ministerial
committees on national security issues.
In his report, Lindenstrauss
slammed the fact that since the NSC Law was passed, there remain “significant
gaps” between the law’s provisions and purpose, and the way it has been
implemented in practice.
Lindenstrauss criticized the fact that the NSC
did not play a central role in the flotilla decision-making process, saying that
Netanyahu had not instructed the NSC to carry out staff work on the matter,
which violated the NSC Law.
The NSC itself conducted a meeting on how to
deal with the arriving flotilla only on May 12, 2010 (the flotilla arrived on
May 31), and even then did not integrate dealing with the flotilla into its
staff work, Lindenstrauss noted, adding that the IDF and Defense Ministry did
not cooperate when the NSC requested them to do so.
comptroller’s audit revealed that the NSC was not fulfilling the role originally
intended for it, and that the council, which Maj. Gen. (res.) Yaakov Amidror
heads, still does not act as a central headquarters for foreign and security
affairs, that should provide added value for decision-makers on vital security
Lindenstrauss said that since 2008, significant progress has been
made in increasing the NSC’s involvement in prime ministerial and governmental
decision-making on security matters.
However, the audit revealed that
although the NSC Law stipulated that the body should conduct most discussions on
security and foreign policy, in practice most of these discussions were still
split between a number of other defense and security bodies, which did not
always cooperate with the NSC.
The state comptroller added that the NSC
Law should significantly change the way preparatory staff work is conducted
during the prime ministerial decision-making process on foreign and security
matters. The NSC, Lindenstrauss said, should act as a professional, balanced and
objective body that coordinates the government’s work in these areas, and which
can offer both a comprehensive view and also a “second opinion” to senior
decision-makers. The NSC should also provide improved knowledge management for
the decision-making process, the report said.
However, the report found
that because the law had been only partially implemented, “the overall view of
foreign and security issues, interoperability between various defense entities,
and organizational memory on these matters may be adversely
Further, the audit revealed that the prime minister had
stipulated that some security information would not be transferred to the head
of the NSC, which Lindenstrauss said was contrary to the NSC
Lindenstrauss also criticized the fact that the NSC was examining
so-called “security initiatives” – plans to develop or purchase new weapons
systems, for example – only at a very late stage in those plans’ development and
immediately prior to their being presented for cabinet approval. This, he said,
limited the NSC’s ability to influence the development of these
The NSC also did not examine all security initiatives
developed by other security bodies, including the Shin Bet (Israel Security
Agency) and the Israel Atomic Energy Commission, Lindenstrauss said, noting that
these bodies were in principle opposed to having the NSC examine their
Lindenstrauss recommended formulating an urgent plan to
implement the NSC Law correctly and establish the NSC as a headquarters from
which to coordinate the government’s work on security and foreign
The state comptroller noted that it was the prime minister’s
responsibility to ensure that the act was implemented properly and to close the
gap between the law’s provisions and the current situation.