Dagan: Failed gov't system endangers security

Former Mossad chief questions gov't's ability to respond well to Iranian threat, saying it needs "wide public support" to act.

July 31, 2012 15:33
3 minute read.
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan

Meir Dagan 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

The failing government system is an existential threat to Israel, influencing everything from national security to the economy, former Mossad chief and Yesh Sikuy director Meir Dagan said at a press conference in Tel Aviv on Tuesday.

“When the government has to make decisions on war and peace, it needs wide public support and not to be a captive of sectorial compromises,” Dagan said, in response to a question as to whether changing the government system would influence decisions on attacking Iran.

He spoke at a press conference of his Yesh Sikuy organization, which seeks to change the system of government in Israel, together with the Citizen Empowerment Center – Israel and Save Israeli Democracy. The three NGOs presented a joint vision for a new system.

The joint outline includes raising the election threshold from two to four percent, and having 60 MKs be elected regionally. The regions would be determined by the Interior Ministry, and voters would only put one slip in the ballot box – which would count for both the regional and national vote.

In addition, the NGOs call for enabling prime minister to veto any bill, a power that can only be canceled by a vote of 61 MKs. The number of ministers must be no less than eight and no more than 16, and they cannot serve simultaneously as ministers and MKs.

“The government needs to work towards goals that serve the whole public. As a result of the coalition’s structure, sectorial parties are able to move the national agenda in intolerable directions, endangering Israeli democracy,” Dagan said.

The former Mossad chief mocked the “so-called successful political games” that the current government has played. He lamented the “absurdity” that an issue with wide public consensus, like replacing the “Tal Law” with one that would increase equality in the burden of service, could not be dealt with due to political problems.

According to Dagan, the political system no longer serves values and morals, dealing only with parties that represent small groups in society. “I know it sounds bombastic, but over time, if we continue to sanctify sectorial needs, the gaps in society and the problems Israel deals with will make our chance of survival very small,” he added.

Prof. Uriel Reichman, president of the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya and a former Shinui and Kadima MK, said that he and Israel Democracy Institute head Dr.

Arik Carmon began working on the issue of changing the system of government over 25 years ago and had many “personal differences.”

“We reached the conclusion that we can bridge our differences in opinion when dealing with the national interest,” Reichman said.

“This example, of putting the national interest first, must be applied in political frameworks.”

According to Reichman, Israel’s political leadership “deals in tricks” instead being faithful to parties and the public. The ideal coalition would consist of two parties, and politics would be centered around two large “axis” parties, he stated.

“The government system in Israel needs to be saved,” Carmon said. “Our political culture accepts [problems] and ignores them. Things happen, but they move on.

We are off the rails on which the parliamentary democracy trains run.”

Carmon lamented Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s “dependency on and captivity by sectorial, minority parties,” leading him to “compromise the national interest.” As such, “the government only cares about political survival and not the reasons we voted for them. This decreases the public’s faith in government,” he added.

He also pointed out that, in the current coalition, only Likud MKs were democratically elected within their party, while the other 37, from Yisrael Beytenu, Shas, United Torah Judaism, Independence and Habayit Hayehudi, were not.

Dagan called on the public to unite, as did the three NGOs, to help bring about change.

Carmon echoed the call, saying that “if the public does not join the battle and put pressure on the government, I am concerned this will not happen.”

Related Content

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu
August 31, 2014
Prime minister to Channel 1: I’ll be running again in next election

By Gil Stern Stern HOFFMAN