Israel's Lawmakers Have Failed. How About We Let Somebody Else Run This Country?

B. Michael
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Israel's outgoing coalition government, June 16, 2020
B. Michael

The Netanyahu-Gantz government didn’t fall on a no-confidence motion. Nor did it end because a bill to dissolve the Knesset was passed, or because it reached the end of its term, or because the prime minister resigned. For the first time in the state’s history the government was deposed automatically. It was hands-off, no one had to lift a finger, and there was no way to evade the decree. The law required it.

Not due to negligible matters like bribery, fraud and breach of trust did the government and the Knesset fall, but because they failed to carry out the most basic task of a government: passing the state budget. The law is unequivocal on this matter. Can’t pass a budget? You’re criminals. You aren’t worthy of governing. Out with you!

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The Knesset is indeed more or less out. It has pretty limited authority. The government, on the other hand, becomes a transitional government. Its rule continues; its authority remains almost as it was and its tenure endures until a new government is formed, which, as we’ve already seen, can take months.

However, don’t logic, common sense, fairness and caution demand there be a difference between the authority of a transitional government that ends in some natural way (like the end of its tenure, a law to dissolve the Knesset, the resignation of the prime minister), and the authority of a transitional government that was sent home because it didn’t fulfill the demands of the law? Shouldn’t its authority be curtailed, lest it fail in its duty yet again, or lest it continue to use its rule to carry out its caprices? And when the man who rules over us is an unbridled crook, the question becomes even more valid.

Lacking precedents, it seems as if this constitutional question lies in the realm of the great unknown. I haven’t found any discussion of it. But there is a system in Israel that at times must deal with similar situations, from which we can perhaps learn something: the system of local government. There the law says that when mayors and local councils cannot pass a budget, they are removed from their posts and replaced by an appointed committee that manages the city or town until the next election.

This model could certainly be imitated on the national level. If a local council that fails needs an appointed committee to improve its ways, a national government that fails certainly could use a committee like this. Does anyone doubt that a professional group of experts could do a better job managing the country than Bibi, Gantz, Yisrael Katz, Orli Levi-Abekasis, David Amsalem, Amir Ohana, Miri Regev, Gila Gamliel, Amir Peretz, Omer Yankelevich, Yoav Gallant and Arye Dery?

There’s no point in denying that Israel desperately needs such an appointed committee. But who will choose its members? On the local level, this authority rests with the interior minister. But he’s the last one we should be asking. If he were to put together such a committee, he would presumably include three Shas activists, four kabbalists, seven contractors, one ritual-bath attendant and two prison guards. Not what we’re looking for.

So who can we turn to? I tried but I couldn’t find anyone. It seems as if there is no choice but to import a committee from China to manage the country until the election. On second thought, perhaps we could suffice with a committee chosen from among the Chinese laborers working on the light rail. They are industrious, have no political agenda, work on Saturdays and have experience operating in dim tunnels.

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