Netanyahu supports law to allow cabinet to declare war
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Netanyahu supports law to allow cabinet to declare war

Transfer of authority from full government is a necessary ‘structural change,’ PM says, not a response to specific threat

Raphael Ahren is the diplomatic correspondent at The Times of Israel.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3r) meets with Mexican businessmen in Mexico City, September 14, 2017. (Prime Minister's Office)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (3r) meets with Mexican businessmen in Mexico City, September 14, 2017. (Prime Minister's Office)

MEXICO CITY — Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Thursday expressed support for a new bill that seeks to transfer the authority to declare war from the entire government to the cabinet.

“For many years now I have thought that Israel’s constitutional framework doesn’t allow for it to deal with military challenges in the modern era. The change that is required is to bring the critical decisions to the cabinet,” he told reporters at the sidelines of a series of meetings with Mexican and Israeli businessmen.

“The required change can happen only as a consequence of new legislation,” the prime minister added. “This is what we’ll do.”

He stressed that he was not referring to any specific military campaign or timing, but rather seeks a “structural change.”

The prime minister rebuffed reporters’ questions about US policy vis-a-vis Iran, referring to his upcoming meeting with US President Donald Trump in New York. “I will hear exactly that the American decisions are based on and what their plans are for the future,” he said.

That meeting will be held amid growing speculation that Trump will declare Iran not to be in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal. In October, Trump must certify to Congress whether Iran is abiding by the pact.

On Tuesday Netanyahu stressed that Israel wants the Iran nuclear deal to be amended or canceled altogether.

“In the case of Iran, there have been some news stories about Israel’s purported position on the nuclear deal with Iran. So let me take this opportunity and clarify: Our position is straightforward. This is a bad deal. Either fix it — or cancel it. This is Israel’s position,” said Netanyahu.

Reuters reported Tuesday that US officials familiar with discussions about the deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), said Israel and Saudi Arabia would rather the pact remains intact.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (c) meets with Mexican businessmen in Mexico City, September 14, 2017. (Prime Minister’s Office)

Earlier on Thursday, Netanyahu met with 16 heads of Mexico’s leading corporations, seeking to get them interested in investing in Israel. At a “power breakfast” in the city’s St. Regis hotel, he told them about Israel’s hi-tech prowess, particular in the field of cybersecurity. He invited the businessmen to hold their next meeting in Jerusalem.

He also spoke at a Mexican-Israeli business forum for 150 Israeli and dozens of Mexican businessmen.

In the afternoon, he was scheduled to meet with President Enrique Pena Nieto and representatives of the local Jewish community. Bolstering bilateral trade is the “purpose” of his trip to Mexico, Netanyahu told reporters.

“Mexico is a huge economy, among the 12 largest economies in the world,” he said. “And we need to be there, and be there big time.”

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