Aluf Benn / The Netanyahu paradox: All-powerful except in one area – Haaretz – Israel News

There is one-person rule in Israel. The prime minister decides everything. He is a lot stronger than the president of the United States.”

it is the prime minister who decides whether to go to war; authorizes cross-border raids, sorties and secret-service activity; oversees the country’s nuclear affairs; sets the budget; and manages Israel’s foreign relations, above all the ties with the White House. There is no decision involving budget modifications, or mediating between opposing ministers and ministries, on which the prime minister does not have the final word.

the prime minister is not omnipotent. His power is limited by affairs of state and religion, and by peace processes. He cannot decide to change the religious status quo and begin to promote civil marriage or public transportation on Shabbat. (Toward the end of his term, Barak declared a “secular revolution.” Big deal.) Nor can the prime minister decide “Who is a Jew,” not even in the rare periods when the religious parties are not part of the coalition.

The peace process poses a greater challenge to governance. The prime minister decides by himself and in secret whether to opt for an agreement or for a unilateral move, such as the evacuation of territories, and then has to forge a majority in the Knesset, which is almost always farther to the right than the government. Even Sharon, with all his popularity, needed almost a year to get the Gaza disengagement plan approved.

That’s the way it is in Israel. The government has no problem mustering a huge majority in the Knesset (and in the polls) for going to war, at least until the war bogs down, but finds it difficult to obtain support for a peace treaty. The right toppled Yitzhak Shamir and Netanyahu (in his first term) as punishment for embarking on the peace process. That’s why it’s easy for Netanyahu to deal with the drought tax, but far more difficult for him to get a peace process off the ground.

via Aluf Benn / The Netanyahu paradox: All-powerful except in one area – Haaretz – Israel News.

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