The cabinet today approved changes to cabinet protocol, which broaden the prime minister's powers, giving him greater control over ministers' work.
The 51-page document lists amendments drawn up Cabinet Secretary Zvi Hauser as part of staff work to facilitate the cabinet's decision-making process. These are the first changes to the cabinet procedures since Israel's independence in 1948, when the original procedures were written.
The amendments are even more significant at this time in view of reports of a possible strike by Israel against Iran within months.
The amendments allow the prime minister to decide, when distributing the cabinet agenda, that ministers absent from the meeting will not be allowed to vote in absentia, which they can currently do, and may only vote if they have prearranged another minister to vote on their behalf.
Another amendment allows the prime minister to change the agenda set by the ministerial committee, and decide whether to hold or to postpone a cabinet meeting "due to special grounds that will be notified to the committee chairman". The problem with this authority granted to the prime minister is that he will be able to submit an issue for a vote several times until it is passed; alternatively, he can remove an issue from the agenda at his sole discretion.
Other amendments state that telephone votes by the cabinet will be signed within 12 hours of the vote, and that the prime minister can shorten this time as he sees fit. He also now has the right to appeal decisions by ministerial committees, and he will also have the right to decide that a cabinet decision against which a ministerial committee has appealed will not be valid until the cabinet again discusses the issue.
Labor Party chairwoman MK Shelly Yachimovich said today that the unprecedented measures given to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to expand his power disrupt the cabinet's decision-making process and transfer the government's authority to one man - himself. "Fateful political, defense, and socioeconomic decisions are liable to be taken without substantive cabinet discussion as required," she said. "Netanyahu has forgotten that in the State of Israel, such issues are not decided by just one man, or even by two. These are power-grabbing measures that jeopardize Israel's democracy."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on August 12, 2012
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