Similar to the “State of the Union” given annually by the president of the United States, the State of Israel could obligate its senior officials to deliver a yearly “State of the Nation” address, if a new bill is signed into law.
The bill, proposed by MKs Hilik Bar (Labor) and Orly Levy-Abekasis (Likud-Beytenu), will require not only the prime minister, but also Israel’s chief of staff, chief of police, Supreme Court president, Knesset speaker and opposition head, to appear before the public and deliver a comprehensive speech on the accomplishments and challenges of the previous year, and the obstacles and goals for the next year.
The bill’s proponents hope to ensure that Israel’s leadership is accountable to the public. As its explanatory notes declare, the “State of the Nation” law “will strengthen the critical relationship and trust with the public.”
According to the bill, “State of the Nation” speeches are meant to serve as a platform for public servants to publicly report on the status of the state and the condition of Israeli society as it pertains to their station.
As of today, there is no obligation for Israeli government officials to answer the questions of the public. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, for instance, has gone over a year without being interviewed by the Hebrew press.
The situation has prompted Tal Schneider, an influential political blogger, to launch a Netanyahu Stopwatch on her (Hebrew) site, The Plog — a ticker with accompanying English and Hebrew text showing every passing second since Netanyahu’s last interview in Hebrew.
“There is no reason why the prime minister of a democratic country would go so long without granting an interview with local media,” Schneider said in a phone interview with The Times of Israel. And since the local journos don’t get the chance, “the foreign press should be asking him why employs such a policy.”