'Parliamentary system needs replacing'

Winograd's Yehezkel Dror: Peretz as defense minister a symptom of reliance on weak coalitions.

yehezkel dror 224 88 (photo credit: Courtesy)
yehezkel dror 224 88
(photo credit: Courtesy)
"The parliamentary system has fulfilled its purpose, and Israel must now adopt a presidential system that will be better at decision-making," Prof. Yehezkel Dror, a member of the Winograd Committee, declared on Tuesday evening in his first public appearance since the Winograd Report's release last week. "We need, as a friend of mine called it, to move on to the 'Second Republic,'" said Dror, a world-renowned Israel Prize laureate in public policy who has been advising Israeli governments since the 1960s. Speaking at the Interdisciplinary Center Herzliya, Dror outlined what he believed were the state's structural problems, and some proposed solutions. One of the primary failures of Israeli strategic planning centered on the issue of kidnappings. "The Israeli response of enormous payments [for the kidnapped] created the problem of kidnappings as a strategic weapon against us," he said. "We have educated the other side to focus on kidnapping, and those who will die in captivity in the future will be paying this price." He characterized his talk as "an optimistic text, but with a pessimistic subtext. The very fact that this [Winograd] Committee exists - with full powers to investigate the prime minister - is rare in the world. Israel is a learning country." Dror's talk focused on two main themes: changing the parliamentary system and enhancing the strategic planning capabilities of the government. "There are deep weaknesses in the central brain of government, in the ability to think strategically," he said. "I'm not only referring to how to conduct wars, but also how to make peace." According to Dror, Israel failed to decide how to use some of the assets gained in the Six Day War - "indecision between the two options of painful concessions for peace or returning to the land of our fathers." Regardless of which policy the country chose, indecision was the worst possible strategic course, he said. Today, this continues in the "small groups, on the Left and Right, that seek to establish facts on the ground. You can't run a country this way." The country also failed to develop the Palestinians of the West Bank and Gaza economically, and continues to fail in developing a coherent policy vis-à-vis ethnic minorities. The reasons for these failures, according to Dror, are the lack of a tradition of statesmanship ("We developed creativity in the Diaspora, but not statesmanship"); the real difficulty of the problems ("Hizbullah is a tough nut to crack, and missiles on the North a new sort of problem"); emotional and ideological politics ("they're glowing hot, and not conducive to an atmosphere of strategic thinking"); and the vicissitudes and instability of coalition politics. "This point is structural - the dependence on weak coalitions means the finance minister can't pass the budget he wants to pass," said Dror. "We saw this also in the appointment of Amir Peretz to the defense ministry." "Our future is mostly dependent on us," Dror concluded. "If we learn from the Winograd Report, it will strengthen the country."