Bill to let PM declare war without broad cabinet approval moves forward

According to Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, the bill “matches the legislation to a reality that has existed for years.”

December 10, 2017 19:27
1 minute read.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusa

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends the weekly cabinet meeting at his office in Jerusalem.. (photo credit: REUTERS)


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A bill that would allow a prime minister to declare a military operation with only the approval of the security cabinet instead of the full cabinet was approved by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked put forward the bill, which was designed to help prevent leaks. The bill would allow the prime minister to give the security cabinet the authority to approve a military operation that could “with an almost certain probability” lead to war.

A second Justice Ministry bill delineates how the security cabinet can use its authority, which until now, has not been statutorily regulated.

“This bill copies the existing situation,” Shaked said. “In the age of social media and fast communications and the danger of leaks, we must match ourselves to the current understanding of national security and make the government and security cabinet’s work as efficient as possible.”

According to Shaked, the bill “matches the legislation to a reality that has existed for years.”

The legislation follows recommendations made by a committee that was appointed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the purpose of examining ways to improve the decision-making process on matters of national security.

One of the recommendations was that the government clarify the security cabinet’s authority to make decisions about military actions.

Meretz chairwoman Zehava Gal-On came out against the bill, saying, “Allowing a small group of ministers to declare war without the [full] cabinet’s approval contradicts the basic principles of democracy.”

According to Gal-On, every commission of inquiry, from the Agranat Committee on the Yom Kippur War to the Winograd Committee on the Second Lebanon War, criticized decisions made without sufficient discussion as one reason for mistakes which were made.

“Discussions are necessary for exposing flaws and a deterrent from mistakes in decision-making,” she added.

Earlier this year, when news of the bill came to light, former prime minister Ehud Barak, a prominent Netanyahu critic, wrote on Twitter: “If the intention is to legislate the reality that (justly) is customary anyway that the security cabinet (and not the full cabinet) makes the decision – that is fine. Much ado about nothing.”

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