A two-thirds Knesset and referendum majority should be required on an issue of such long-term importance as withdrawing from Judea and Samaria.
The ability of Israeli governments to govern has been proven time and again through thick and thin during the past 65 years. Israeli governments have handled wars, signed peace agreements, put an end to rampant inflation, absorbed millions of immigrants. Other democracies, including the United States, can only envy the ability of Israeli governments to get things done. Those who sought to imitate the U.S. presidential system need only look at the problems that Barack Obama faces in dealing with Congress. Putin’s Russian presidential system is something we really don’t want.
But the real question is what kind of a majority is required for decisions of great importance or that have far-reaching consequences. Unlike other democracies, such as the United States, the Knesset has not adopted clearly defined rules establishing the majority required for the adoption of important laws or the ratification of international agreements. For example, in the United States the constitution requires a two-thirds majority in both houses of Congress to propose an amendment to the Constitution, and a two-thirds majority in the Senate for the ratification of international treaties. A simple majority is not considered sufficient.
The present situation in Israel regarding this issue can only be described as legislative disorder. For the ratification of international agreements, a majority vote in the government of those present and voting is sufficient. As for Knesset legislation, laws designated as “basic” can be adopted by a majority of those present and voting, but once adopted, they need an absolute majority for repeal. There is no provision for “special majorities” in the case of matters of great import.
A change in the electoral system is, no doubt, a matter of great import, which might have far-reaching consequences. Still remembered is the unfortunate law for the direct election of the prime minister, whose key provision was passed by a one-vote margin. We don’t want a repeat of that kind of hasty experiment. Changing the threshold for election to the Knesset, and all changes to the electoral system, should require a two-thirds majority. The same is true for international treaties. The support of a simple majority should not be considered sufficient for ceding Judea and Samaria and uprooting Israeli citizens from their homes.
As for holding a referendum on such an issue, the arguments presented against submitting the matter to the entire electorate are specious. Elected governments are not empowered by the electorate to make any and all decision, especially not on issues which were not the focus of the electoral campaign which brought the government to power. A referendum would give the public a chance to express its opinion on this specific issue. But here too a simple majority of those voting in the referendum cannot be deemed sufficient for approval. As is the case for approval of international treaties in the United States, a two-thirds majority should …read more