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Prime Minister Netanyahu Photo: Motti Kimchi
Prime Minister Netanyahu Photo: Motti Kimchi
 
 

New bill: Top officials to address public in State of the Nation speeches

An Israeli version of the US' State of the Union is proposed, requiring top six political and public officials to 'look public in the eye' and report their achievements and failures once a year

Moran Azulay
Published: 02.10.14, 12:14 / Israel News

Will Israel's most senior officials be obliged to get up on stage and present the "current state of the union" like in the United States? New proposal aims to adapt American "State of the Union" for an Israeli "State of the Nation."

 

  

A new bill suggests requiring the prime minister, IDF chief-of-staff, police commissioner, president of the Supreme Court, chairperson of the opposition and Knesset speaker to report before the public and give an address that details the achievements, failures, obstacles, and destinations for the upcoming year.

 

The new initiative, pushed by Knesset Member Hilik Bar (Labor) as a member of the opposition and MK Orly Levy-Abekasis (Likud- Yisrael Beiteinu) as a member of the coalition, asks to adopt in Israel the measure of accountability and prevent a situation in which those holding senior positions do not feel obligated to the public on whose behalf they are working.

 

MK Bar, who proposed the bill (Photo: Gil Yochanan)
MK Bar, who proposed the bill (Photo: Gil Yochanan)

 

"The State of the Nation Law," the bill's explanatory notes state, "intends to deepen the significant ties and trust with the public, and to assure that once a year those holding central positions in the government address the public and the nation with speeches that describe to the public what happened over the course of the passing year in the area of their purview and to tell the public their agenda for the following year."

 

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According to the bill proposal, such speeches will be a mandatory platform for the many public servants to report the state of the nation and the state of the society in subjects which are central and essential to the fulfillment of their duties.

 

"The State of the Nation speeches will be given by the holders of the six central positions in Israel: The prime minister, IDF chief-of-staff, police commissioner, Knesset speaker, chairman of the opposition, and the president of the Supreme Court," says the proposal.

 

"The position holders will describe achievements and progress towards objectives or difficulties that arose during the previous year, and will report on parameters of progress."

 

As of today, there is hardly any obligation for public officials and top leaders to provide the public with answers.

 

For instance, on Sunday, Police Commissioner Yohanan Danino pointed a blaming finger at the IDF on the matter of use of explosive by criminals in Israeli residential areas; according to the chief of police, most of the explosives come from the army. Though the matter is quite troubling and highly endangers the public, the IDF has yet to provide explanations to the accusations. If the bill will be passed, the IDF chief-of-staff may find himself obligated to provide answers to such issues.

 

Audience: High school students

The bill's originators said they hope the initiative will strengthen the democratic infrastructure in Israel.

 

The bill states that State of the Nation speeches will be open to Israeli media coverage and some will be broadcasted live, and so the officials will speak directly to the Israeli people. It is further stated that the speeches will be given before high school senior students, moments before they enter civilian life or join the IDF.

 

"It is the duty and the privilege of the leaders who run our everyday lives to look the public in the eye and report back, in an orderly fashion, at least once a year," explained MK Bar, the bill's initiator.

 

"It is inconceivable that the public will not be given direct update from the political and public leadership regarding the state of the nation in different fields. The bill I initiated with MK Orly Levy-Abekasis will regulate this admirable tradition. The chief-of-staff, police commissioner, Supreme Court president, Knesset speaker and opposition chairperson will speak directly to the people, look them straight in the eye and report achievements, failures and obstacles, and set goals for the next year."

 

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