Petition for Constitutional Change in Israel
Citizens and Friends of Israel:
Israel, despite its periodic multi-party elections, is NOT, nor has it ever been, a genuine democracy.
Unlike all democratic regimes, in Israel the entire country constitutes a single electoral district, where parties compete for Knesset seats on the basis of Proportional Representation (PR).
Knesset Members (MKs) are not individually elected by and accountable to the voters in constituency electionsthe practice of all democratic countries, many of which are smaller in size and population than Israel.
In Israel, citizens are compelled to cast their ballots for a fixed party list, and the ballot slips indicate only the name of the party without mentioning the names of its candidates!
Strange as it may seem, this system of Proportional Representation militates against democracy, especially with Israel's low electoral threshold.
Proportional Representation produces a multiplicity of parties, such that no party has ever won a majority of Knesset seats. Hence the Government or Cabinet invariably consists of a multiplicity of rival party leaders, each with his own agenda.
Since these party leaders never have to compete in constituency or regional elections, they remain safely ensconced in power at the top of their party's electoral list, which enables them to influence the order of candidates on those lists despite party primaries.
This makes MKs subservient to their party leaders, especially when the latter are cabinet ministerswhich explains why 27 of the Likud's 40 MKs voted for unilateral withdrawal from Gaza contrary to their campaign promise!
Since the Cabinet consists of rival parties, its business, in actual practice, is not to pursue a national program "but merely to divide positions of influence and the national budget"to quote David Ben-Gurion. The Cabinet in Israel thus turns out to be a collection of fiefdoms.
Given such a Cabinet, it is virtually impossible for a prime minister to pursue a coherent and resolute national strategy. This tempts himat least on controversial issuesto ignore his Cabinet and act on his ownunilaterally.
By so doing, however, he violates the law, namely, Basic Lawthe Government, which requires the premier to submit policies of national significance to his Cabinet for approval. The prime minister may therefore behave like a dictator, since his Cabinet rarely has a strong, unified opinion.
Turning to the flaws of Israel's Supreme Court:. The court's president or chief justice can very much determine judicial appointments. The court is therefore regarded by eminent Israelis across the political spectrum as a "Courtocracy"a "self-perpetuating oligarchy."
Moreover, because of Israel's dysfunctional Knesset and Cabinet, the court often usurps legislative powers and even substitutes its own judgment on military mattersfor example, whether buildings used by Arab terrorists may be destroyed. Deadly consequences have followed some of the court's arrogant rulings.
Knesset Speaker Ruby Rivlin has rightly said that Israel is governed not by the rule of law but by a "gang of law"a gang headed by Israel's prime minister and the Supreme Court's president.
Lacking in Israel are institutional checks and balances, without which the rule of law gives way to the arbitrary rule of men. It is in this light that one should understand why 10,000 Jews in Gaza and Northern Samaria have been expelled from their homes and farms, their schools and synagogues, on top of so many other abuses of human rights. Moreover, and as Israel's highest military and intelligence officials have warned, retreat from this Jewish land and surrendering it to the PLO-Palestinian Authority, Hamas, and Islamic Jihad will encourage terrorism everywhere!
The loss of Gush Katif bodes ill for the future of the Jewish State. Israel is suffering not only from treacherous leadership, but from a system of governance that enables Israel's ruling elites to ignore the convictions of the Jewish People with Impunity.
We therefore urge you to study and sign this Petition. This will help us develop an alternative leadership as well as the means of changing Israel's inept, divisive, and undemocratic system of governance.
Prof. Paul Eidelberg
President and Co-Founder of the Foundation for Constitutional Democracy
President, Yamin Israel Party
We, citizens of Israel, Jews and friends of Israel throughout the world, demand basic constitutional reform of Israel's government.
We demand, first, that MKs be individually elected by the voters in multi-district elections.
Second, we demand a Presidential System to replace Multi-party Cabinet Government; and we want the Executive separated from the Legislature by excluding MKs from the President's cabinet.
Third, we insist that judges of the Supreme Court be nominated by the President (advised by a council learned in secular and Jewish law) and confirmed by a democratically elected Knesset.
We further demand, in order to enumerate the powers of these three branches of government, the adoption of a constitution designed for this purpose.
This constitution must integrate Jewish and democratic principles. It must be a constitution that secures religious freedom and facilitates friendship between religious and non-religious Jews.
It must be a constitution that will protect the personal and civil and economic rights of all citizens.
This constitution must also contribute to the restoration of Jewish national pride, which has been so terribly diminished by those who have and have had a vested interest in preserving Israel's inept, divisive, corrupt, oligarchic system of governance.
We therefore ask all fellow citizens and friends of Israel to sign this Petition and thereby support this endeavor to hasten constitutional reform in Israel.
The Petition for Constitutional Change in Israel petition to Citizens and Friends of Israel was written by Prof. Paul Eidelberg and is in the category Government at GoPetition.