Israeli Parliament Gives Premier Power To Declare War Without Cabinet Approval

As tensions mount along Israel’s northern and southern borders, parliament passed a bill giving the prime minister the authority under “extreme circumstances” to declare war or order a major military operation by consulting only the defense minister and without a full cabinet vote, as was previously the case. The legislation is being construed as a victory for Binyamin Netanyahu, with opponents arguing that the new law gives the premier too much power by removing all oversight. In this respect, the language of the law does not outline what “circumstances” qualify as “extreme,” instead affording Israel’s leader freedom of action “if the issue is necessary due to urgency.” In recent years, decisions on war and peace have primarily been made by the Security Cabinet, a smaller forum of Israeli ministers that sets associated policy. In June of last year, the full cabinet voted to codify this reality through legislation, thereby opening the door for Prime Minister Netanyahu to get his own version of the bill approved.

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