Cabinet approves greater powers for the prime minister

By Gabe Fisher

The cabinet on Sunday approved the expansion of the prime minister’s powers to advance legislation.

In what the Prime Minister’s Office called a bid to “strengthen governance,” ministers gave the prime minister the right to vote in any ministerial committee, constrained ministers’ capacity to prevent implementation of cabinet decisions, and granted the prime minister the right to bring back to the cabinet for further votes proposals that had been previously rejected by the cabinet.

New procedures were also adopted for ministers to approve proposals by telephone vote, whereby ministers would not be allowed to unreasonably delay a response.

Vice Prime Minister and Minister for Negev and Galilee Development Silvan Shalom earlier dismissed speculation that the new procedures were part of a run-up to a potential Israeli move against Iran, which many in the government and Knesset oppose.

“No one believes that the decision to strike Iran will be determined by a ministerial telephone survey. Nobody, including the prime minister, expects that to happen,” said Shalom in an interview on Army Radio Sunday morning.

Labor leader Shelly Yachimovich slammed Netanyahu for the changes, characterizing the new procedures as a blow to Israel’s democracy.

“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.”