I am in favor of Benjamin Netanyahu ruling like Donald Trump. If it gives him the ability to be a better leader, I am all for it. If it helps him implement decisions, he should go right ahead. There is nothing wrong with positions of trust (I used to hold one). There are good people there who have to be approved by a Civil Service Commission committee, but who were selected in advance for one reason—because they were wanted. The idea is to set clear professional criteria for every position and prevent a conflict of interest, and from here on out the door is open.
During the elections, Netanyahu presented a temporary campaign to change the government system. He tossed a slogan in the air and didn’t elaborate. If the appointment of people who the ministers know will create a change in the system, then let him be Trump. The main question is whether that is where the problem lies, whether the director chosen for a governmental company can really change something.
Anyone who ever touched a pen, a keyboard or a government paper knows that a prime minister in Israel finds it very difficult to set procedures. Some rush to make decisions, like Ehud Olmert and Ariel Sharon, some try to escape decisions, like Netanyahu, but all find it difficult to speed up processes, regardless of whether we are talking about establishing communities, deciding on a policy or dealing with Haredim, Arabs, law and order.
Take, for example, an innovative project the prime minister wants to invest in. Let’s assume that he has a meeting in his office with five pioneers who invented a new species of sweet red pepper that can be grown in the Arava region and sold for a huge profit. It’s an undisputable land and an idea that is beneficial to Zionist interests alone. A symbolic agricultural startup. It’s all good. Is the prime minister capable of deciding to help them financially? Of matching the regulation and the required approvals? Of creating a process in reasonable time so that the invention is not lost or stolen?
The answer is no. There are legalists and regulation, a budget and Treasury workers, a director-general of the Prime Minister’s Office and an agriculture minister, a local council head, the Israel Land Authority—and again, a number of legalists in each of the bodies on the way.
The sweet red peppers can grow as a private initiative, but not as a process that began thanks to the prime minister, regardless of who he is. When Sharon wanted to establish communities in Samaria, he used Gush Emunim. Years later, he used movements such as Ayalim to build student villages in the Negev and the Galilee. When there is a desire to build in the Gaza vicinity, the World Zionist Organization’s settlement division is relied upon. Anything but relying on the government, its ministries and its workers.
The concern that political activists will be appointed is justified: Without rules and criteria, politicians have a tendency to steal horses. So here’s a solution: Setting rules and criteria for positions of trust. Moreover, in today’s system, bids don’t guarantee a thing. Sometimes it seems that a bid is aimed at putting on a show for the public. They decide on the candidate, issue a bid in the media, sort the appeals, and then the person who was designated in advance is miraculously selected. It would be better to directly give professional people positions of trust.
But after all this, and after the argument that will develop over the real motives, concerns and problems, we will discover once again that the Israeli government’s problems are not there. Bureaucracy does not always depend on the senior government worker—it has to do with culture and heritage, with the ability to transfer money and plan.
In my opinion, the biggest problem is the legal hurdles, or to be more exact—the Israeli government’s legal system—from the top of the pyramid to the bottom. The best example is Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit. Here is a person who I regard as a professional, unbiased man, who on the one hand is supposed to advise the government on legal issues (try to find a solution to the Amona affair and other challenges), and restrict the government, on the other hand. The customer he advises is also under a police investigation on his behalf. He has to meet with him every day, and meet with those who are investigating his case in the police. If you don’t have supernatural powers, it’s impossible.
This is what happens in every government ministry. The advisers who work under the ministers and are supposed to help them manage processes properly are also the restrictors and supervisors. It can be a red pepper growing project in the Arava or the evacuation of a community in the Binyamin region. The result of all of this is a stalemate, shutdown, stuck processes.
The directors are not the problem, the problem is the legal advisers and the impossible mission they are tasked with. By the way, while we’re talking about Trump, limiting the prime minister’s term like in America could also help freshen up the ranks and boost the motivation to create a change.