Should Israel embrace term limits? - opinion

It is now up to us, the citizens, to head to the virtual town square and support our 120 lawmakers who will deliberate this issue in the coming weeks.

 OPPOSITION LEADER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset last week. (photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)
OPPOSITION LEADER Benjamin Netanyahu addresses a Likud faction meeting in the Knesset last week.
(photo credit: OLIVIER FITOUSSI/FLASH90)

Israeli democracy has many solid foundations and facts. Our parliament has 120 members because that’s what the law dictates. We have an election every four-and-a-half years (unless something unusual happens) because that’s what the law dictates. But our democracy, built brick by brick for the last 73 years, still has some glaring gaps left open – and now is the time to fill them.

The Greek philosopher Democritus said: “Immoderate desire is the mark of a child, not a man.” I would update to claim that “unchecked lust for power is a politician’s trait – not that of a leader.”

Two of our prime ministers, Benjamin Netanyahu and David Ben-Gurion, served for more than a third of Israel’s existence – combined for more than 25 years. We cannot undo or mend the past, but it is time to repair this flaw in our democracy.

We established “We Are Israel, LTD” as a public benefit company, not just as an organizing entity but also as a statement of intent. Over the past few weeks, a group of Israelis from across the political spectrum gathered with a shared will and intent to mend what needs fixing, and provide Israeli lawmakers the support they require to ensure Israel can be a beacon of stability in the Middle East.

Among the items on our agenda, and one of the most pressing, was limiting the length of service of prime ministers to two terms or eight years. Some will say that there are more urgent matters right now. However, if we don’t start with the foundations, we will not be able to address other elements. The notion of term limits, which will be effective from the moment the bill is passed, is vital for Israel’s democracy, to ensure that no one person will hold too much power, to encourage competitiveness, to reduce corruption, and to allow new blood to flow into the political system.

THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)THE KNESSET building in Jerusalem holds one of the world’s smallest legislatures. (credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)

Netanyahu himself, who will still be able to run for two more terms should the bill pass, has said several times that he supports term limits. Heads of parties from the entire political spectrum have expressed support as well.

So why do we need a civil campaign? Because with all the good intentions of those supporting this bill, including those of the former prime minister, when the moment of truth arrives and MKs will need to vote, they will require a strong and clear public backing to complete the legislative process. It is now up to us, the citizens, to head to the virtual town square and support our 120 lawmakers who will deliberate this issue in the coming weeks. Our goal is that this legislation will receive extensive support. In the end, it is our job, the people’s job, to demand accountability from our representatives.

There is no politics here; no Left or Right. There is no personal agenda against any specific leader. We stand for Israel, for all of Israel’s prime ministers, whoever they will be. And it is our responsibility to enact the protections for proper governance to provide us with stability and a good life for our children and grandchildren. We are Israelis who ask of our representatives in the Knesset to add your name on another brick in our democracy’s wall. After that, we can move on to the next goal.

The writer is founder and head of the We Are Israel movement and a board member of KKL-JNF.