Security cabinet can declare war without full government approval, says new bill
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Security cabinet can declare war without full government approval, says new bill

Move green-lighted by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation aims to enshrine existing situation in law, clarify authority and prevent leaks, says justice minister

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during a ceremony in Jerusalem, November 6, 2017. (Flash90)
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked speaks during a ceremony in Jerusalem, November 6, 2017. (Flash90)

Israel’s security cabinet will be able to decide to go to war without consulting the full cabinet, according to a bill green-lighted Sunday by the Ministerial Committee for Legislation.

The ministerial committee actually approved two bills combined into one. The first specified that with the prime minister’s approval, the cabinet can delegate authority to the security cabinet to undertake a military campaign which, in all likelihood, will lead to war. The second makes the security cabinet’s de facto authority legal.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) explained that the move would optimize the work of government and the cabinet and help to prevent leaks in this era of social networks and fast-moving information, Hadashot news reported Sunday.

“The law reflects the existing situation exactly, as it is anyway,” Shaked said. “In an era of social networks, fast-circulating media and danger of leaks, we must adapt ourselves to the current political security outlook and optimize the work of the government and cabinet,” she said. “That’s the purpose of the bill and it adapts the legislation to the situation which has already existed for years.”

Six months ago, the cabinet approved a legislative amendment to allow the government to authorize the cabinet in advance, at the start of a governmental term, to launch a major military operation or a war.

In September, the prime minister said, during a visit to Mexico, “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.”

Former Israeli army chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi in Tel Aviv on March 24, 2015. (Flash90)

Some seven years ago, Netanyahu and his then defense minister Ehud Barak, instructed Gabi Ashkenazi, then army chief of staff, and Meir Dagan, then head of Mossad intelligence, to prepare the security forces to be ready for a certain operation.

Ashkenazi and Dagan claimed the instruction was illegal because it could lead to war.

Senior Justice Ministry officials made clear that the new legislation would clarify the situation and prevent the need for a real-time legal debate, which could be leaked.

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