The government in Israel has great power; sometimes it is even exaggerated. The most blatant and terrible manifestation of this was of course the expulsion of 8,000 innocent civilians who lived in Gush Katif... This move was undertaken by great use of force, without any limitations imposed on it by the Knesset or Supreme Court.
Examining the actions of the outgoing government makes the same thing clear. This government was premised on a relatively solid majority and did almost anything it wanted. It initiated... wars, engaged in indirect peace talks with Syria and direct negotiations with the Palestinians, embarked on Supreme Court reforms, and of course, ran the country’s day-to-day affairs.
The whining over the short terms in office accorded to Israeli governments is exaggerated. The Olmert government did not collapse against a backdrop of coalition problems, but rather because of criminal affairs. The overwhelming majority of the various Israeli governments managed to survive for more than three years.
In Israeli politics, three years are an eternity when it comes to the burning issues on the agenda. The problems faced by Israel’s leadership are among the most difficult in the world, and therefore it is very important that decisions are taken by agreement of several parties, and not heaven forbid by a one-man decision, as is the case in a presidential system of government.
The survival efforts of every government are part of the checks and balances required in a democratic regime, and even they are not effective enough on occasion in the face of a determined and too-powerful government.
Despite the broad public concurrence that Knesset members are motivated by their desire for power, governments were toppled and elections were held here against a blatantly ideological backdrop. The Barak government fell when he decided to make peace at Camp David at any price. Golda’s government fell against the backdrop of the Yom Kippur War, and the first Rabin government because of the Shabbat.
...When a prime minister decides to ignore the ideological red lines of his coalition partners he may lose his job, and that’s a good thing.
Therefore, it is difficult to ignore the sense that the apparent “governability problem” is no more than an internal code-word by the losing leftist camp, which is again complaining that “its country had been stolen.” The Rabin government endorsed the Cairo Agreements, as part of the Oslo Accords, with a one-vote majority, yet it did not sense any governability problems at the time. Yet when the traditional-Jewish majority stops the mad rush of the enlightened minority trying to make peace at any price, again we see the governability problem emerging.
This governability problem can be resolved relatively easily, should the elected prime minister decide to deal with the issues that do not face polar disagreements, while dedicating most of his energies to economic and social issues instead of to peace agreements and withdrawals. Dealing with these issues will serve to blunt the ideological disagreements that topple governments and enable him to rule for an extended period of time.
Had Netanyahu conducted himself this way in 1998 instead of signing the Wye Accord... his government could have completed its four-year term in office with no problems...