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Meretz Head: Israel should Learn from Obama

MK Galon says like Obama, Israel, too, should require parliamentary approval before war is launched.
By Gil Ronen
First Publish: 8/31/2013, 9:53 PM

MK Zahava Galon
MK Zahava Galon
Flash 90

MK Zehava Galon, head of the far-left Meretz party, was one of the first Israeli MKs to respond to US President Barack Obama's announcement Saturday that he was turning to Congress for a decision on whether to attack Syria. She said that Israel, too, should implement a system in which there is Knesset oversight on decisions to go to war.

"Without judging whether the American president's policy on Syria is right or not,” she wrote on Facebook, “his decision to ask for congressional approval for an an act of war has great meaning.”

She continued: “Think about the way in which decisions on military operations beyond the border are made in Israel: the authority is vested fully in the government, it passes it on to the Cabinet, and from there to the Septet and from there to the special Cabinet, and so in the end, two or three people make the fateful decision on attacking in a foreign country – which could lead to a total war – on their own, in the dead of night, without letting any other element in the governing establishment cast doubt on the idea. Just think about how we launched the Second Lebanon War.”

Galon qualified her statement, saying: "I don't think that every military action requires Knesset approval, like the approval Obama is now asking Congress for. That isn't reasonable, for obvious reasons. But there certainly needs to be oversight by the elected branch on such strategic decisions. That is why, last year, I proposed a bill amending the Basic Law: Government, stating that a government decision to go to war would have to at least receive the preliminary approval of a special subcommittee of the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Security Committee.”

"At present,” she added, “the government is only required to report to the Knesset ex post facto, and the amendment I proposed would bring in an external control to protect against hurried decisions, which does not exist at present, without detracting from the secrecy and speed that are needed in such cases.”

Galon stressed that the international community must not remain silent over the “mass butchery” taking place in Syria and that moral justification for action against the killing has existed for a long time.