Dagan to push for change in political system

Former Mossad head would like to see larger parties strengthened, prime ministers able to govern without constant fear of coalition collapse.

Meir Dagan with Shaul Mofaz 311 (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Meir Dagan with Shaul Mofaz 311
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Former Mossad chief Meir Dagan’s shift from behind the scenes to public life escalated significantly Tuesday when he announced that he would form a new movement aimed at changing the Israeli political system.
The Ma’ariv daily reported exclusively on Tuesday that Dagan would head a well-funded campaign aimed at obtaining one million signatures from Israeli citizens supporting change in the system, and then using them to pressure the government to take action.
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“We must change the political system immediately,” he told the newspaper. “It won’t be a political movement and won’t have any connection to any current party. It will be a public movement whose sole goal will be to change the current political system as soon as possible. I intend to go for this with full force.
The current political system is a threat to the future of the state and if we don’t change it we’re lost.”
Dagan’s main criticism of the system is that large parties are not large enough, and smaller parties that hold the balance of power are able to dictate to them. Prof. Uriel Reichman, who helped found the secularist Shinui party, said the new movement would urge that steps be taken to give prime ministers more power to govern without fear of having their governments fall.
It was not immediately known Tuesday whether the movement would back direct regional elections for some Knesset seats, a prospective change that in the past has enjoyed the most support among MKs and the general public.
Besides Dagan and Reichman, the movement is expected to include Kadima strategist Reuven Adler and former centrist MK and minister Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, who, like Dagan, is a vocal critic of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu.
Dagan’s first interview since leaving the Mossad will be broadcast Thursday on Channel 2. In a clip from the interview broadcast on Tuesday, Dagan slammed Defense Minister Ehud Barak for recently suggesting that if Israel attacked Iran, retaliation would result in the deaths of no more than 500 Israelis.
“I think the price will be much higher in human life, destruction and the paralysis of normal life,” Dagan told interviewer Ilana Dayan. “If Israel attacks Iran, it would lead the country into a regional war. Hamas, Hezbollah and Syria will attack Israel.”
Dagan, who also came out against the prisoner exchange for abducted soldier Gilad Schalit, slammed efforts by top politicians to silence him.
“With all due respect, I won’t let the defense minister, prime minister or finance minister prevent me from expressing my opinion,” he said. “We don’t live in an undemocratic country. In a democratic country, I have a right to express my opinion.”