Only cabinet majority can declare war, not prime minister, says amended law

A law empowering Netanyahu to declare war solely with the backing of the defense minister, or even on his own if also serving in that capacity, was scrapped. 

By: World Israel News Staff

The Knesset approved a bill canceling a section of the law which enabled the prime minister and defense minister to declare war without the support of other ministers.

The Knesset’s plenum on Tuesday approved the Basic Law: the Government, amendment number 7, with a majority of 77 supporters versus 16 opponents in second and third readings.

The initial bill passed in May sought to cancel the requirement for a cabinet majority to declare war or take significant military action that could lead to war, thus permitting a prime minister to declare war together with only the defense minister or even on his own if also serving in that capacity.

Former Prime Ministers David Ben-Gurion, Yitzhak Rabin and Ehud Barak were all simultaneously defense minister.

During the debate prior to the vote, Member of Knesset Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) said that “the struggle that I’ve led has yielded results. We have put Netanyahu’s whims in check, as well as his disrespect for Israel’s most important elements and most critical decisions.”

“It is unacceptable that a decision on waging war will be in the hands of one person, without any consultation with cabinet members,” he added.

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MK Ilan Gilon (Meretz) remarked that “the decision whether to wage war is a fateful decision for the lives of IDF soldiers and of the country’s citizens, and I do not trust Netanyahu’s and Liberman’s discretion.”

“This is a government that wants to reduce the forum that decides on waging war to two people only, but in order to approve a peace agreement, the approval of a tremendous number of Knesset members is required. This is a government that is only interested in war, is belligerent and opposes peace,” he charged.