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Political Reform Strengthening Israel’s parliamentary system of government

IDI's Forum for Political Reform in Israel was established by IDI President Dr. Arye Carmon in September 2009 in response to "the urgent need to generate significant improvement in the capabilities and functioning of the Knesset." Over the course of 2009-2010, the Forum met under the chairmanship of Supreme Court President (Ret.) Justice Meir Shamgar, bringing together some 100 academicians, retired judges and politicians, public figures, and businessmen to formulate practical proposals for structural reform. Headed by IDI Research Fellow Prof. Gideon Rahat, a team of 10 IDI researchers formulated a series of recommendations for political reform, which were presented to the Knesset for debate and implementation. Special emphasis was placed on strengthening the Knesset through fundamental changes to Israel's electoral system.

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The call to change the governmental system had been circulating in the public discourse for quite some time. This phenomenon was strengthened by the findings of IDI's 2009 Israeli Democracy Index, which pointed to a worrying trend of erosion in the Israeli public's confidence in most of the democratic institutions and structures, and revealed the public's rejection of politics. For Israeli democracy to remain stable and healthy, the public must provide legitimacy to its elected officials and this was not happening.

Under the guidance of IDI Senior Researcher Prof. Gideon Rahat, a team of IDI researchers formulated a series of recommendations for political reform. Their work was based on a rigorous analysis of the performance of Israel's political system since the founding of the State and on a comparative study of the performance of 35 developed democracies throughout the world. The underlying principle of the work was that parliamentary democracy is the only political system that can properly represent the varied groups, beliefs, opinions and desires in Israel's multicultural society.

At each stage, the IDI research group presented its recommendations to the members of the Forum. Established by IDI in September 2009, the Forum and its committees were comprised of approximately 100 senior figures of the Israeli political and legal system, including retired Supreme Court justices, former ministers and former Knesset members, CEOs of government agencies,  municipal public officials, former government secretaries, former director generals of the Prime Minister's Office, public figures, university presidents, and representatives of the business sector. These participants carefully examined the electoral and structural reforms aimed at repairing and stabilizing the systems upon which Israeli parliamentary democracy is based.

The proposals of the IDI research team and the Forum were presented to the Knesset for debate and implementation on March 28, 2011.

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Chairman of the Forum:
Supreme Court President (Emer.) Justice Meir Shamgar

The IDI Research Team

Director: Prof. Gideon Rahat

  1. Political Parties Team: Dr. Ofer Kenig, Assaf Shapira, Reut Itzkovitch Malka, Michael Philippov
  2. Knesset Team: Dr. Chen Friedberg, Nir Atmor 
  3. Government Team: Dr. Shlomit Barnea, Mr. Shurik Draishpits, Mattan Sharkansky, Or Tuttnauer 
  4. Electoral System Team: Dr. Chen Friedberg, Nir Atmor, Anna Knafelman (former member)

Academic Consultant:

Prof. Matthew S. Shugart, University of California, San Diego

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  1. Opening session: October 25, 2009: Objectives and Implementation
  2. Second session: January 3, 2010: The Electoral Threshold
  3. Third session: March 18, 2010: Internal Party Dynamics
  4. Fourth session: June 13, 2010: Regulation of Party Codes and Ethics
  5. Fifth session: September 15, 2010
  6. Sixth session: January 2, 2011

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On Monday, March 28, 2011, Former President of the Israeli Supreme Court Meir Shamgar, Chairman of IDI's Forum for Political Reform in Israel, submited the Forum's recommendations to date to Knesset Speaker MK Reuven Rivlin. For further information about this event, click here.

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Chairperson:

  • Supreme Court President Emeritus Justice Meir Shamgar

Members:

  • Mr. Yarom Ariav, former Director General of the Ministry of Finance
  • Adv. Yoram Aridor, former Minister of Finance
  • Former Minister of Tourism and Minister of Transportation Uzi Baram
  • Prof. Avi Ben-Bassat, senior fellow of The Israel Democracy Institute; former Director General of the Ministry of Finance
  • Former Deputy Foreign Minister Dr. Attorney Yehuda Ben-Meir
  • Prof. Menahem Ben-Sasson, President, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem*
  • Prof. Avraham Brichte, School of Political Sciences, University of Haifa
  • Former Speaker of the Knesset Avraham Burg
  • Mr. Khaled Chamdan-Aghbariyya, mayor, Umm al Fahm
  • Prof. Chanokh Dagan, Senior Fellow, The Israel Democracy Institute
  • Prof. Asher Cohen, Political Science Department, Bar-Ilan University
  • Mr. Ilan Cohen, former Director General of the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Former MK Ran Cohen, Chairman of the Israel Standards Institute, former Minister of Industry and Trade*
  • Prof. Momi Dahan, Senior Fellow, The Israel Democracy Institute; Head, The Federman School of Public Policy and Government, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem*
  • Prof. David Dery, Mandel Leadership Institute
  • Mr. Raanan Dinur, former Director General of the Office of the Prime Minister
  • Supreme Court Justice (Emer) Dalia Dorner
  • Brigadier General (res.) and former MK Amira Dotan
  • Mr. Shlomo Dovrat, Director General and Founder, Carmel Ventures; forman chairman of the Dovrat Commission for Educational Reform in Israel
  • Prof. Niva Elkin-Koren, Dean of the University of Haifa Faculty of Law
  • Dr. Dani Filc, the Department for Politics and Government, Ben-Gurion University
  • Mr. Avi Fisher, Executive Vice President, IDBH
  • Dr. Orit Galili, Political Studies Department, Bar-Ilan University
  • Ms. Yael German, Mayor of Herzliya
  • Brigadier General (reserve) Eival Giladi, former CEO of Portland Trust
  • Mr. Mazin G’nayem, Mayor of Sakhnin
  • Mr. Shaul Goldstein, Director General of the Nature and Parks Authority; former Director of the Gush Etzion Council
  • Mr. Gidi Grinstein, Founder and President, Reut Institute
  • Adv.Yuri (Yoram) Guy-Ron, former Director of the Israel Bar Association
  • Former MK Michael Harish, former Minister of Industry and Commerce
  • Mr. Shouki Hatib, former mayor of the municipal council Yafia; former chairman of the Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs
  • Former MK Prof. Naomi Hazan, Head of the School for Government and Society, the Academic College Tel Aviv-Jaffa*
  • Dr. Annabel Herzog, School of Political Sciences, Haifa University
  • Prof. Chana Herzog, Department for Sociology and Anthropology, Tel Aviv University
  • Attorney David Hodak, Gross, Kleinhendler, Hodak, Halevy, Greenberg & Co. Law Offices
  • Dr. Amal Jamal, Department of Political Science, Tel Aviv University
  • Mr. Ramiz Jaraisy, Mayor of Nazereth
  • Rabbi Mordechai Karlitz, former Mayor of Bnei Brak*
  • Prof. Orit Kedar, the Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Wajia Kiuf, Mayor of Ussefiya local council
  • Prof. Mordechai Kremnitzer, Vice President of Research, The Israel Democracy Institute
  • Mr. Yossi Kucik, Kucik Entrepreneurship, Management and Consulting Ltd.; former Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office
    Former MK Dr. Yehiel Lasry, Mayor of Ashdod
  • Dov Lautman, Chairman, The Lautman Fund
  • Former MK Rabbi Itshak Levy, former Minister of Transportation, Minister of Education, Minister of Religious Affairs, Minister of Construction and Housing
  • Former MK David Libai, former Minister of Justice
  • Adv. Benzi Lieberman, Director of the Israel Lands Administration; former head of the Yesha (Judea, Sumeria and Gaza) Council
  • Adv. Orna Lin, Orna Lin & Co., Law Offices
  • Mr. Moshe Lion, CPA, Lion, Orlitzky & Co., Certified Public Accountants
  • Former MK Amnon Lipkin-Shahak, former Chief of Staff Israel Defense Forces, Chairman of the Tahal Group; former Minister of Tourism and Minister of Transportation
  • Former MK Adv. Etti Livni
  • Adv. Yisrael Maimon, former Government Secretary
  • Mr. Hanoch Marmari, former Director of the Save Israeli Democracy Association
  • Deputy Chief Justice of the Supreme Court (Emer.) Eliahu Mazza
  • Prof. Barak Medina, Dean of the Law School, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Former MK Adv. Hagai Meirom, former treasurer of the Jewish Agency
  • Former MK Rabbi Michael Melchior, former Minister for Social and Diaspora Affairs*
  • Former MK Adv. Roni Milo, former Minister of Health, the Minister for Regional Cooperation, Minister of the Police, Minister of Labor and Welfare and Minister for Environmental Protection
  • Mr. Avi Naor, Chairman, the Or Yarok Association for Safer Driving in Israel
  • Prof. Suzie Navot, Law School of the College of Management Academic Studies
  • Former MK Adv. Moshe Nissim, former Minister of Justice, Minister of Finance and Minister of Industry and Trade
  • Former MK and Minister Ophir Pines-Paz, former Minister of the Interior and Minister of Science, Culture and Sport
  • Former MK Adv. Avraham Poraz, former Minister of the Interior
  • Prof. Arie Reich, Dean of the Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
  • Adv. Eyal Rosovsky, Zellermayer Pelossof Rosovsky, Tsafrir Toledano & Co. Advocates
  • Prof. Mario Schneider, head of the Political Science Department, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Ms. Sharon Shahaf, social activist and strategist
  • Former MK Adv. Moshe Shahal, former Minister of Public Security, Minister of Energy and Infrastructure and Minister of Communications
  • Adv. Gilad Sher, former Director of the Office of the Prime Minister and Minister of Defense
  • Former MK Avraham Shochat, former Minister of Finance
  • Prof. Yedidia Stern, Vice President of Research, The Israel Democracy Institute; Faculty of Law, Bar-Ilan University
  • Mr. Dror Strum former Director of the Israel Antitrust Authority
  • Prof. Yuli Tamir, former Minister of Immigrant Absorption and Minister of Education
  • Former MK Yair Tsaban, former Minister for Immigrant Absorption
  • Former MK Avshalom Vilan, Director General of the Israel Farmers Association*
  • Prof. Eran Wygoda-Gadot, Head of the School of Public Sciences, Haifa University
  • Ms. Dalia Yairi, journalist
  • Attorney Ayal Yanon, General Counsel to the Knesset
  • Prof. Zeev Zahor, founder and former President of Sapir Academic College
  • Prof. Yaffa Zilbershats, Deputy President, Bar-Ilan University
 

*  Participated in the Forum’s deliberations but expressed reservations regarding several  of its recommendations

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Committee Chairs:

  • Former MK Avraham Burg, former Speaker of the Knesset
  • Attorney Yisrael Maimon, former Government Secretary

Members:

  • Former MK Dr. Yehuda Ben Meir, former Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs
  • Dr. Arye Carmon, President, The Israel Democracy Institute
  • Prof. Reuven Chazan, the Political Science Department, the Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Former MK Ran Cohen, former Minister of Industry and Trade and Deputy Minister of Construction and Housing
  • Supreme Court Justice (Emer.) Dalia Dorner
  • Dr. Chen Friedberg, Department of Political Science, The Hebrew University of Jerusalem
  • Former MK Rabbi Itshak Levy, former Minister of Transportation and Minister of Education
  • Former MK Hagai Meirom, former Treasurer of the Jewish Agency
  • Prof. Zeev Segal (dec.), Tel Aviv University

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Committee Chairs:

  • Prof. David Dery, Mandel Leadership Institute
  • Mr. Raanan Dinor, former Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office

Members:

  • Adv. Aharon Abramowitz, former Director Generalof the Ministry of Justice; Director General of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
  • Ms. Shulamit Amichai, former Director General of the Ministry of Education
  • Mr. Yarom Ariav, former Director General of the Ministry of Finance
  • Mr. Ilan Cohen, former Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Ms. Yael German, Mayor of Herzliya
  • Mr. Shouki Hatib, former mayor of the local council Yafia; former Chairman of the Monitoring Committee of Israeli Arabs
  • Prof. Avi Israeli, School of Public Health, Hadassah; former Director General of the Ministry of Health
  • Rabbi Mordechai Karlitz, former Mayor of Bnei Brak*
  • Mr. Yossi Kucik, Kucik Entrepreneurship, Management and Consulting Ltd.; former Director General of the Prime Minister’s Office
  • Accountant Moshe Lion, Lion, Orlitzky & Co., Certified Public Accountants; former Director General Prime Minister’s Office
  • Deputy Chief Justice (Emer.) Eliahu Mazza
  • Mr. Sali Meridor, former Chairman of the Jewish Agency and the World Zionist Organization; former Israeli Ambassador to the United States
  • Dr. Udi Prawer, Director of the Planning and Policy Branch, Prime Minister’s Office
  • Mr. Yuval Rachelevsky, former Director of Wages, Ministry of Finance
  •  Mr. Dror Strum, former Head of the Israel Antitrust Authority
  • Adv. Tali Yaron-Eldar, Tadmor & Co.; former Income Tax Commissioner, Ministry of Finance
 

*  Participated in the Forum’s deliberations but expressed reservations regarding several of its recommendations.

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In the interview below, Prof. Gideon Rahat discusses the reforms recommended in Reforming Israel's Political System, published by IDI in 2013.


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