A new bill, proposed by MK Zevulun Kalfa (Jewish Home), has called for the cancellation of the presidency, a position currently held by President Shimon Peres. The bill comes after Economics Minister Naftali Bennett and Justice Minister Tzipi Livni spoke last Sunday about cancelling the presidency.
Kalfa charged that the functions of the president are largely ceremonial and symbolic, and can be performed by existing governmental authorities such as the foreign ministry and Knesset chairman. During a 7 year term, the president signs every law and international treaty, but does not wield actual executive power.
The presidential institution cost the state a whopping 62 million shekels ($17.6 million) in 2012, a figure 3 times higher than a decade earlier, noted Kalfa, who is a member of the Finance Committee.
It is noted that Peres as president held a birthday party last year that cost 2 million shekels ($450,000).
"As a member of the Finance Committee I reason that the cancellation of the unnecessary (presidential) institution will bring budget savings to the tune of dozens of millions of shekels every year, which we can redirect to support the weaker layers in terms of social issues and education," commented Kalfa.
The bill added that in recent years the presidency has given itself permission to get involved in the affairs of the executive branch, and at times to cause foreign pressure through its statements.
Peres has used his position to say Jews shouldn't fear living under the Palestinian Authority (PA), and that PA recognition of Israel as a Jewish state is "unnecessary." He has also griped publicly about proposals to annex the Jordan Valley.
Kalfa remarked on Tuesday that "the time has come to say things loudly and clearly, the president of the state is a decorative position, unnecessary and wasteful, and his powers could easily be distributed to other authorities. There's a Knesset, a government selected by the public, and there's no reason for a fourth branch of government getting involved in issues outside of its authority."