Knesset Broadens PM’s War-Making Powers

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu speaks at the Ministry of Defense in Tel Aviv, Monday. (Reuters/ Amir Cohen)

The Knesset began the summer session on Monday by approving legislation to formally authorize the cabinet — and in extreme cases, the prime minister and defense minister alone — to declare war or launch military operations that could quickly lead to war.

Until now, war-making decisions resided in the government as a whole. From here on, only the approval of the cabinet is needed; and in emergency situations, not all cabinet member need be present.

Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked explained that the measure is no radical departure from existing protocols:

“The law reflects the existing situation anyway,” she said. “In the era of social networks and the speed of media and the danger of leaks, we must adapt ourselves to the current political security outlook and streamline the work of the government and cabinet as much as possible.”

“That is the goal of the law and it adapts legislation to the reality that has existed for years,” she said.

The bill passed by a vote of 62 to 41.

Shaked and Chairman of the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avi Dichter (Likud) were the chief sponsors of the bill.

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