(photo credit: )
Minister of Strategic Affairs Avigdor Lieberman keeps up his JPost blog.
What do Tzipi Livni, Silvan Shalom, Binyamin Netanyahu, Ariel Sharon, Shimon Peres, Shlomo Ben-Ami, David Levy and Ehud Barak all have in common? The answer is that all eight have served as foreign minister in the last 11 years. In that same period of time we have had seven ministers of defense, nine finance ministers, nine ministers of justice and 10 ministers of tourism (Rehavam Ze'evi was assassinated in office). It is clear that we can't allow this situation to continue.
This week, the Megidor Committee presented its final report on electoral reform to the president. Even though I disagree with some of the recommendations in the report (such as electing 50% of the members of Knesset in regional elections and 50% by national lists), I commend the committee and other organizations (such as the Center for Citizen Empowerment in Israel) for pushing us one step closer to changing the system. I feel very strongly that we need to change the electoral system. I made that very clear to the prime minister last year before joining the government, and although I prefer a presidential system similar to the US or a semi-Presidential system similar to France; any formula that incorporates the following basic conditions would be better than the formula we have today:
Separation of powers: In today's system, there is no clear separation of powers between the executive branch and the legislative branch - nearly a third of Knesset members are also government ministers. This situation inhibits a proper system of checks and balances. The Supreme Court has been engaged in an ongoing power struggle with the Knesset over judicial and legislative power; the Knesset has lost nearly all power of oversight over the government's actions, and the government (who has a majority in the Knesset) has turned into a nearly exclusive legislator.
A strong, stable government: From day one of a prime minister's term, he has to face weekly no confidence votes and regularly timed coalition crises. This means that the prime minister spends most of his time fighting for the survival of his government, not governing. The government should not be dependent on a majority in Knesset for its survival. It will, however, be accountable to the Knesset and have to rally a majority to pass any legislation. The Knesset will retain the power to impeach a prime minister and dissolve itself in favor of new elections by an overwhelming majority.
The Israeli public has gone to the ballot boxes five times in the last 11 years. The last government to serve out its full four-year term was Menahem Begin's government - elected in 1977 (I am not counting the 1988 Shamir-Peres rotation government). An elected government should be given a chance to set and implement its policies. At the very start of this Knesset's first session I introduced an electoral reform bill. This bill is in the hands of a non-partisan round-table committee that aims to achieve a broad consensus in the Knesset for electoral reform. My hope is that the next time the Israeli public casts its votes, we will be electing a government capable of carrying out its platform.
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We need to be part of EU and NATO