Security Cabinet of Israel
|This article is part of a series on the
politics and government of
The Political-Security Cabinet (Hebrew: הקבינט המדיני-ביטחוני, HaKabinet HaMedini-Bithoni) or The Ministers Committee on Security Affairs (Hebrew: ועדת השרים לענייני ביטחון, Va'adat HaSarim LeInyanei Bitahon) is a narrow forum of 'Inner Cabinet' within the Israeli Cabinet, headed by the Prime Minister of Israel, with the purpose of outlining a foreign and defense policy and implementing it. This smaller forum of the cabinet members, is designated to coordinate the diplomatic negotiations, and in times of crisis, especially war, it is designed to make quick and effective decisions.
The history and the idea behind the establishment of a Security Cabinet
The idea of establishing a Security Cabinet was initially part of the Centre Party party's platform of 1999 election, chaired by Yitzhak Mordechai. The party offered a new security plan, in which a Security Cabinet will be established for the purpose of implementing an effective peace and security plan. According to their platform, a new council for diplomatic planning and advising will be established, that will be headed by a person appointed by the Prime Minister, who will preside over small professional teams in the relevant fields. Furthermore, they suggested that the Prime Minister, Acting Prime Minister, Vice prime Minister, the Director-Generals of the Defense, Foreign, and Treasury ministries, as well as the Chief of General Staff, chief of Shin Bet, the Military secretary to Prime Minister, will take part in the security cabinet meetings on regular basis, and that others presiding over the diplomatic negotiations or any other relevant officials will participate accordingly. The idea behind the Security Cabinet was to create a professional objective advising body to the Cabinet. The members would evaluate different situations, offer alternatives, determine positions, and oversight on the Cabinet and the army.
In practice, the forming of this body was based on section 6 of the "Government Law" of 2001  that stipulated the following:
"The Government shall have a ministers committee composed of: The Prime Minister - chairman, Acting Prime Minister, if such was appointed, Defence Minister, Interior Minister, Internal Security Minister and the Treasury Minister".
"The Government may, upon the proposal of the Prime Minister, coopt an additional members to the committee, provided that the number of its members not aggregate exceeding half of the Cabinet Members".
Concerning the issues the minister's committee on national security will tackle, the law stipulated that:
(A) The diplomatic-security and settling issues shall be debated within the committee.
(B) The daily agenda of the committee, and the officials to be invited to participate in its meetings shall be determined by the Prime Minister, after consulting with the minister in charge.
(C) The Minister in charge, prior to any decision making, may demand on any matter debated within the committee to be moved to a full Cabinet meeting to be debated and resolved. The aforementioned shall not apply, should the Prime Minister be ascertain, after consulting with the minister in charge, that the circumstances concerning the matter requires an immediate decision or that there are other circumstances that justifies the committee's decision.
The "War Cabinet"
During Yom Kippur War, a group of ministers was formed arbitrarily, and had assumed responsibility for taking fundamental decisions during that war. This group became to be known as "The War Cabinet", and later was also nicknamed "Golda's kitchen". The 'War Cabinet' had made independent decisions during those emergency times, and the Government had approved those decisions only in retrospect. Against that background, already during those times, the question of the necessity and role of such a cabinet arose. On the other hand, some suggested that the Cabinet members should run the war as they see fit - without the need of getting anybody's approval.
The structure of the Political-Security Cabinet
- Permanent Members:
Appointment by law:
- Prime Minister and Foreign Minister – Benjamin Netanyahu, Chairman
- Minister of Finance – Yair Lapid
- Defense Minister – Moshe Ya'alon
- Internal Security Minister – Yitzhak Aharonovich
- Justice Minister – Tzipi Livni
- Israel's security agencies' objectives and its policies.
- Issues concerning the IDF, including the army's structure, deployment, alertness and its equipment, research and development in these fields, receiving the annual national intelligence estimate, and oversight on events evolving in these areas.
- Receiving information concerning intelligence matters, diplomatic issues, military and security operations.
- Not the "basic law: the government (2001)"