How to Rebuild the

Political System

October 6, Simchat Torah eve

  1. A political system suffering from ultra-sectorialism: Most political parties are loyal to their political base alone; there is no Israel-wide vision. Sectors that are not in the coalition are barely represented and funds are allocated along sectoral lines.
  2. Rigid blocs paralyzing the political system: For the past five years, Israel has been divided into two inflexible political blocs. As a result, statist issues are interpreted as political and it is impossible to reach agreements even on essential matters such as regulations for renewing citizenship in emergencies, the exemption from visas to the United States, and the IDF’s “Uniform to University” program. Even facts and perceptions of reality are subject to this division into blocs, which prevents the practical and necessary analysis of threats and dangers. There is no political maneuverability, individual members of Knesset can topple the government, and the result is coalition paralysis and government instability.
  3. A powerful government and a weak Knesset: The Knesset cannot perform its role of overseeing the government, because in practice it is subordinate to the government. MKs are weak and cannot criticize the government or the leaders of their parties, especially the “Norwegian Law” MKs. The prime minister is powerful and doles out privileges instead of true authority. Everyone wants to be a minister because the Knesset is perceived as weak and lacking influence.
  4. A small and insufficiently representative Knesset: The ratio between the size and needs of the population and the size of the Knesset has not changed since the establishment of the state. The Israeli Knesset is a global outlier in this metric, despite the fact that the population has grown tremendously over the years and its needs have changed. Israel is also one of the only Western countries where there is no regional component to electing MKs. The combination of these circumstances creates a Knesset that is ill-equipped to handle the burden of the legislature and with the required professional expertise; a Knesset that is out of touch with the public, those on the ground and in the periphery.
  5. A leadership crisis: MKs are chosen based on loyalty to party leaders, and many worthy candidates are dissuaded from entering the political system. The number of women is small, and the tables of decision makers are insufficiently diverse — which damages their quality and capabilities. There has been a massive devaluation in the status of MKs and ministers.
Oct. 7

October 8

At the outbreak of the war, we saw the cost of the lack of trust in the political system when faced with the need to make life-or-death decisions. We saw the limited ability of our sectoral political leadership to respond to a truly national crisis. Alongside this, we saw the blossoming of a powerful civil leadership with proven capabilities, and an opportunity for political renewal. 

This tremendous upheaval demonstrates the need to wrest the power from the political fringes to the center; to establish a political system that strives to build trust; and to make decisions based on broad consensus. However, the upheaval could strengthen the most extreme voices and forces and accelerate processes of dissolution.

How to Rebuild the Political System

  1. Setting up a broad centrist government based on a “Zionist Alliance”: The political system will be based on a coalition partnership between parties that represent the public that serves and is committed to a Jewish and democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence. Additional sector-specific parties will be invited to join on this basis. A centrist government is not one of compromise and coercion — but rather should be the default option.
  2. A broad coalition and a small government: A broad coalition requires striving for broad consensus, which prevents extortion and increases representation. It bolsters statism over sectorialism, increases trust and public legitimacy, facilitates stability, and prevents the formation of blocs. However, in order to prevent the size of the coalition from leading to a large and wasteful government, the size of the government will be determined in law with a rigid change clause, set at the minimum required to run the country and not determined by coalitional indices.
  3. Limiting the terms of the prime minister and certain other positions: Term limits for certain positions (such as prime minister, mayor, etc.) should be legislated along with limiting the ability to bring officeholders to trial during their tenure. This will prevent stagnation and entrenchment among officeholders on the one hand, while on the other hand enable public officials to benefit from immunity during their terms.
  4. Empowering the Knesset: Increasing the number of MKs to ensure it is reflective of the natural growth of the population, narrow the significant gap in representation, and bring Israel in line with international standards; a regional component should be added to the general election system to provide local representation on the national level too; to reflect the percentage of women in the general population, a differential party funding framework should be introduced to improve gender diversity. In order to increase the Knesset’s oversight of the government, the number and authority of Knesset committees should be expanded, with clear dividing lines in terms of areas of authority set out between the committees and government ministries; Knesset committees should be afforded oversight powers of government action plans; and additional parliamentary tools should be created to empower Knesset members to oversee the government’s work.
  5. Building an ethos of “sending our best into politics”: Reviving Israeli leadership by introducing political ethical education in all education systems and schools in Israel (formal, informal, IDF and higher education), creating an Israel-wide sense of purpose, and demanding the highest public standards of ethics from elected officials.
  6. A system of differential funding for political parties (at the local and national level): This will increase the quantity and quality of gender diversity.
  7. Establishing a “Zionist alliance” at the center of the political system: The Zionist alliance should stand at the base of the coalition, promoting politics of broad consensus and unity governments as the order of the day. The consensus of a broad government will be based on commitment to a Jewish-democratic state in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence.