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Israeli Constitution Molded After French; Dangers of Political Instability Considered

September 5, 1948
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

France’s struggles to form its 11th Government in four years are being considered here by the drafters of Israel’s proposed constitution as they seek to adapt the European type of parliamentary democracy, such as She French system, for the Jewish state.

Students of political science who are members of the Constitutional Committee are aware that Israel, with even more political parties than France, faces the danger of Governmental instability with a parliamentary democracy. In fact some of the drafters had shown an interest in the republican form of Government in the United States where a certain decree of continuity in Government is assured by the fact that a strong president is elected to serve a given number of years.

But this would mean one-party rule, they reasoned, pointing out that in the foreseeable future no single party in Israel would hope to receive a full majority. Israel has four major parties, each able to count on the support of 12 to 25 percent of the electorate, and a number of minor parties, Contending that a one-party executive would in effect disenfranchise the majority of the people, these experts believe that the only fair form of Government would be one permitting a coalition cabinet to be based on an election by proportional representation.


Furthermore, these political scientists argue that the inhabitants of Israel, who come mainly from European countries, are not accustomed to the United States system. They expect to have a Government responsible to the people’s wishes as expressed by a Parliament, therefore the Constitutional Committee is in general agreement on a government in which the President is independent but relatively powerless — rather like the British King or French President — and a cabinet strong but responsible to the Parliament.

The governmental machinery, as proposed in the document accepted by the Constitutional Committee as a basis for discussion, would work thus: A one-house legislature would be elected and when the results were known, the president, — the method of whose election has not yet been decided — would confer with the party leaders and appoint a Cabinet. The Cabinet, “collectively responsible” to Parliament and the people, “resigns if it ceases to retain majority support,” If no new Cabinet can be formed, the President dissolves the chamber and orders a new election.

Having decided that point, the Committee is trying to strengthen the executive as much as possible. It is considering various proposals to cut the number of confidence votes. One provides for a petition by a certain number of delegates suggestions range from one-fifth to one-third of the total — to be required before Parliament could force a confidence vote. Another would restrict confidence votes to a select list of types of legislation.

Some political experts feel that Israel has a good chance of governmental stability since the Jewish parties had decades of experience in working together in coalition in the Jewish Agency under the British Mandate. Also the present Cabinet is based on a coalition. Others feel that this coalition hung together solely because of the continuing crisis and might crumble in the days of peace, adding that the Jewish Agency did not really have Governmental responsibility and the Jews as a nation have had little experience in self-rule.

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