It is well known that when David ben Gurion declared the independence of Israel in 1948, at the same time he announced that there would be a convention held to adopt a constitution for the new country a few months later. The convention never took place because of the attack on the nascent country by its Arab neighbors.
Since that time, there have been several attempts to hold such a constitutional convention, but without success, largely due to the fact that the politicians benefited from the spontaneous political system that emerged, which, unique in the world, vests sovereignty not in the people or a head of state, but in the political parties.
As a result,, the members of the Knesset, instead of representing an identifiable group of citizens of Israel, to whom they are responsible, represent and are responsible to one person--the head of their party.
It is nothing short of a miracle that within the boundaries of such a dysfunctional, not to say absurd, political system, Israel has become a scientific, technological, economic and military success.
It is, however, becoming ever-more clear, with the collapse of the latest jerry-built government and with yet another election looming which will probably not resolve anything, that this political situation cannot continue. Not only are multiple domestic and foreign national interests under threat, but it is not clear that the Israeli state can continue to accomplish such fundamental and elementary functions as approving a budget.
While it is not impossible that one of the prominent political figures will decide to set aside personal interest for the interests of Israeli society and embrace the necessity of adopting a constitution, it is more likely that a public movement will be required to force such a development.
When and if it happens, the convention delegates will be faced with a choice of models:
1. The American presidential model, in which the president is both head of state and head of government.
2. The British parliamentary model, in which the monarch is the head of state and the prime minister is head of government. The head of state is a symbolic figure, representing the nation, as opposed to any particular political, social or religious faction and the prime minister runs the country.
3. The French parliamentary model, in which the president is, in corporate terms, the CEO (Chief Executive Officer) and the prime minister is COO (Chief Operating Officer).
The most suitable governmental model for Israel would undoubtedly be the British model (with a symbolic president rather than monarch), both because it would require the least change from the present structure and because Israel needs a symbol of national unity, given its social and religious divisions.
But whichever model is adopted, the members of the Knesset must be elected by electoral district, with the citizens voting for individuals, not parties. Only then will it become a truly a government of and by the people, not a cabal of party leaders.
Can someone be found to organize and lead such a movement? He or she would be the equivalent of a second founder of the state.
Dr. Norman Bailey is professor of Economic Statecraft at the Galilee International Management Institute, and adjunct professor at the Institute of World Politics, Washington DC. Dr. Bailey was a senior staff member of the National Security Council during the Reagan administration and of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence during the George W. Bush administration.
Published by Globes, Israel business news - en.globes.co.il - on June 1, 2022.
© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd., 2022.