Shadow DM Mofaz (l), Kadima chief Tzipi Livni
Shadow DM Mofaz (l), Kadima chief Tzipi LivniIsrael News Photo: (file)

Tzipi Livni, head of the opposition Kadima party, announced on Monday that she is establishing a "shadow cabinet", in the tradition of British parliamentary democracy. Kadima is planning a very "active opposition" to the Netanyahu government.

The decision to form a shadow cabinet involves appointing individuals from within Kadima to head teams assigned

The shadow "ministerial" staffs will generally be headed by Knesset members who headed the respective ministries in the past.

to monitor the activities of government ministries and to present alternative policies. The shadow "ministerial" staffs will generally be headed by Knesset members who headed the respective ministries in the past.

For her part, Livni will play the role of coordinating Kadima's diplomatic policies, what might be called a Shadow Foreign Minister to Israel's current Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman. Former Defense Minister and IDF Chief of Staff Sha'ul Mofaz will shadow Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

Monitoring Public Security Minister Yitzchak Aharonovitch will be former Public Security Minister Avi Dichter. Former Treasurer Roni Bar-On will head the shadow Finance Ministry, peering over the shoulders of Yuval Steinitz, the current Finance Minister, and of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, who is also serving as Minister of Economic Strategy.

Former Environment Minister Gidon Ezra will follow environmental issues, shadowing Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan. The shadow Minister of Education will be former Education Ministry general manager Ronit Tirosh, monitoring the policies and actions of current Education Minister Gidon Sa'ar.

Former Deputy Immigrant Absorption Minister Marina Solodkin will follow absorption issues as they are handled by Absorption Minister Sofa Landver.

MK Yaakov Edry will follow the issue of development in the Negev and the Galilee, shadowing Vice Prime Minister Silvan Shalom in his role as Minister of the Development of the Negev and Galilee. Former Housing Minister Zev Boim will head a staff dealing with issues pertaining to Bedouins in the Negev, which will not directly shadow one specific ministry.

Former Interior Minister Meir Sheetrit will head the shadow staff assigned to monitor national policies affecting regional municipal government, responsibilities which are also divided among several current government ministers.

In addition, policy teams were established for monitoring developments and presenting alternatives to government policies, or lack thereof, in other specific areas. Former Justice Minister Chaim Ramon and MK Yochanan Plesner, who served as an aide to the president of the Israeli Democracy Institute, will head a staff assigned to formulate changes to the current system of government. Similarly, Livni will be heading a team that will be developing a national constitution, a longtime project of the institute.

All of the foregoing teams, according to the Kadima announcement, will be "monitoring the actions of the government and will constitute an active alternative to it." The shadow cabinet assignments are part of a plan announced last month by party leader Livni to make the Kadima party, the largest single faction in Knesset (29 MKs), into an "active opposition."

During their terms as leaders of their respective parties, both the Likud's Menachem Begin and Labor's Shimon Peres established what may be called shadow cabinets; however, they were rarely treated with the same seriousness as similar political entities in other parliamentary democracies. The most well-known and important shadow cabinet in Israeli history, however, was that established by Zionist leaders prior to the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948. It enabled the quick establishment of an organized government as soon as the nation was freed from British occupation.

Earlier this month the London-based Arabic-language newspaper Al-Hayat reported that Fatah, headed by Palestinian Authority Chairman Mahmoud Abbas, is considering the establishment of a shadow cabinet to the Hamas government in Gaza. The Fatah objective would be to be prepared to take over the Palestinian Authority in Gaza should the Hamas regime collapse.