Was the Cabinet included in the decision to sign a reconciliation deal with Turkey, or was it finalized without the ministers` involvement? Tuesday`s meeting of the State Control Committee raised concerns that, as Committee Chairwoman MK Karin Elharrar (Yesh Atid) put it: ”It appears as though the cabinet`s decisions are made by a coin toss.”
”It has already been revealed that the government completely ignores (Israel`s) National Security Council (NSC), which integrates all of the decisions and preparations of the government, army and intelligence bodies,” Elharrar stated. ”Many people have repeatedly warned that the cabinet is not really updated on decisions and their significance. Actually, the State of Israel, through its representatives, signed a reconciliation agreement with Turkey, and only after it was signed an intensive debate was held in the cabinet. Decisions are reached without information, without exchanges and without upholding the law.”
(Gaza flotilla vessel being towed; archive photo: Moshe Milner, GPO)
Brig. Gen. (ret.) Yossi Beinhorn, head of the security division at the State Comptroller`s Office, said the NSC is charged with providing background material for cabinet debates, including the significance and possible consequences of the decisions at hand. The state comptroller checked this activity and discovered a long list of failures, lack of cooperation between the defense establishment and the NSC, failure by the NSC to present alternatives, lack of initiative, and more.”
MK Ofer Shelah (Yesh Atid) charged that ”the cabinet and the NSC were not involved at all in the formulation of the [reconciliation] agreement, despite the fact that it was on the agenda for four years. This prime minister [Benjamin Netanyahu] has no intention of abiding by the National Security Council Act and he does not intend to include the cabinet in fateful decisions.”
(Committee Chairwoman MK Karin Elharrar)
”The cabinet is a body that has been weakened by Netanyahu, and the manner in which the agreement with Turkey was decided on is a direct continuation of the failed decisions that were made six years ago regarding the Gaza flotilla, and it shows that Netanyahu has not learned and does not implement,” Shelah argued.
According to MK Eyal Ben-Reuven (Zionist Camp), the background material provided by the NSC ”is crucial for the balance between the government and the security establishment, but the State of Israel has been without a foreign minister or NSC chief for a long time.”
Uzi Arad, the former head of the NSC, said the cabinet`s discussions about the Gaza flotilla in May 2010 were ”thrown together and not serious, and therefore I refused to participate in them.”
Arad added that, ”We requested for months to deliberate on the issue and the prime minister refused to assemble the cabinet.”
According to Arad, similar requests to assemble the cabinet regarding the threats from Iran were also ignored. ”The cabinet was neutralized, in violation of the law,” he said.