Report: Netanyahu Seeking Freer Hand in Warmaking Power

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu listening to a military briefing on the northern border in the Golan Heights in July. (Kobi Gideon / GPO)

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu is advancing a law that would put the power to declare a war in the hands of the Security Cabinet, instead of the full Cabinet, as is currently the case. The law would require an adjustment of the Basic Law on government, and is based on recommendations by former head of the Research Department of IDF intelligence, Yaakov Amidror. The plan was revealed by Channel Two on Sunday.

“The Security Cabinet represents the government, as all of the heads of the coalition partners are members of the Security Cabinet, along with top defense and security officials,” Amidror told Yisrael Hayom. “As such, the Security Cabinet has much more experience and knowledge in security matters.”

Under the change, the Security Cabinet will be empowered to declare a war, or authorize a military action that could lead to war. The law is based on a study Amidror conducted in recent years on effective military strategy, and is a vast improvement over the current system, “which no longer is appropriate for the times, because it appears to be impossible to make decisions that will remain a secret until the appropriate time to reveal them,” he said.

If a planned military action was leaked, it could lead to tragedy, with the enemy taking the initiative and striking first, putting Israel on the defensive. “There is no reason for discussions on these sensitive matters to take place in the wider government, and not strictly in the Security Cabinet. The current law is an archaic leftover from a different era,” he said.

Opposition MKs reacted angrily to the proposal, saying that Netanyahu was seeking to make himself “an oligarch,” concentrating all decisions on making war in his own hands, as there was little likelihood that the Security Cabinet would oppose him. But Ehud Barak, who has been one of Netanyahu’s fiercest critics, expressed support for the change. “This is how things actually work now in the field, and if the point is to formalize it, that’s fine. Those who oppose this law are making a big deal out of nothing.”

According to Channel Two, the roots of the change are in an attempt by Netanyahu and then Defense Minister Barak to conduct a military operation against Iran. The operation was discussed in the Security Cabinet, but not the wider Cabinet, which then consisted of over 20 ministers. Then-IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi and Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who has since passed on, refused to authorize the operation, claiming that Netanyahu and Barak’s order was illegal, as it had not passed a vote of the full Cabinet.

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