“The weird, rather abnormal, context of the international parliamentary arena shows the complete absence of any examination or review of international foreign affairs,” Nitzan Horowitz, former MK for Meretz, stated in a new study published by the Israeli Institute for Regional Foreign Policies (Mitvim). The study was released under the title Our Back on the World: Why does the Israeli Knesset Ignore Foreign Affairs?
At the outset, Horowitz indicates that “international affairs, including very important and sensitive issues on the international agenda, are beyond the immediate attention of the Israeli partisan political arena. These are almost completely absented from debate and discussion at the Knesset: within the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee, any other committee or activity at the Knesset, the Knesset plenum,
legislation, conferences, or public meetings held at the Knesset.” According to Horowitz, more critical is the “notable parliamentary absence with respect to the Israeli foreign policy, whether there is a crystallised and systematic Israeli foreign policy, and what this policy is.”
In fact, the Knesset is almost completely absent from domains of thinking, research, planning, decision-making, and decisiveness in international affirs. This illustrates an “picture of a miserable reality in two key issues: the low status of the Knesset vis-à-vis the government (executive branch), and permanent negligence of international affairs by official Israeli political authorities.”
The study investigates some key aspects of the Knesset functions, which directly impact very low profile given to international affairs. Most notably, a foreign affairs committee is lacking: “foreign affairs are integrated into a joint Foreign Affairs and Defence Committee.” The Israeli political context pays little attention to foreign affairs in light of the dominance and centrality of security issues. In addition to weak parliamentary control over the Israeli Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the effort to promote foreign policy by means of legislative acts has repeatedly failed.