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The Two-Legislature Solution – How Would it Work?

One person who commented on a previous post suggested that the Two-Legislature Solution would result in a government similar to that of Lebanon which resulted in civil war and on-going strife.  This is not correct.  In Lebanon various existing executive organizations, each with its own military, were melded into a single legislature with prescribed membership quotas.  When disagreement arose in this legislature, recourse to a military solution was available.  In the Two‑Legislature Solution proposed for Israel-Palestine, there would continue to be only one military, responsible to the Executive Branch but overseen by the Legislative and Judicial Branches.  Thus, civil war would not be an option.

That said, it appears appropriate at this point to lay out exactly how the Two-Legislature Solution would work.

What the New Structure Would Look Like

Separating the legislature into two houses would not require a large change in the structure of the Israeli government.  The first step would be establishment of the Other House by the current non-Jewish Members of the Knesset.  Their long experience in the Knesset would allow them to set up procedures and supporting offices that are similar to those used by the Knesset, although they would not be required to be identical, utilizing the assistance of civil servants from the legislative branch.

The first rule would be that only Jews could vote for Members of the Knesset.  Who is a Jew, and thus would have the right to vote for Members of the Knesset, would be determined by the Knesset before each election.  Those thus identified would have the option as to whether they wish to vote for the Knesset or the Other House.  All persons of voting age who are not identified as Jews and Jews who opt not to vote for the Knesset would vote for the membership of the Other House.

The total number of members of both houses would be set at a given number, say 300 for purposes of this discussion.  In order that neither group be overrepresented, the number of members allocated to each house would be determined by the proportion of the eligible voters who are enabled to or choose to vote for each house.  For example, if the number of eligible voters in each group was equal, then each house would have 150 members.

Over time as the population varies, the number of members in the Knesset and the Other House could increase or decrease, however no matter how small the Jewish population were to become, any proposed law or budget would need to be approved by a majority of the Knesset to be enacted, except in the following case.

In order to prevent a small faction on either side from gaming the system, a special rule is proposed wherein any proposal would require either a majority of both houses to be enacted or two thirds of the total of both houses.  In the 50/50 example above, this would mean that in order to pass, a proposal would require either 76 votes from each house (a total of 152), or 200 votes combined from both houses.  In such a case if one house were unanimous, the other would only need to supply one third of its votes for a proposal to pass.  Such a rule would keep unscrupulous politicians from using the definition of Jewishness to concentrate power in a few hands.

If in the future a Knesset decided that only a very few persons were Jewish, this would put power in the hands of the Other House which would represent most of the country.  Likewise, if a Knesset decided that everyone was Jewish, the result would be the same, just being run from the Knesset chamber.

How the Government Would Be Determined

As is current practice, the Prime Minister would be selected from the legislature, however this would require either a majority of both houses or two thirds of the total membership, as described above, to approach the President about forming a government.  The Prime Minister would nominate members of the Cabinet who would then also need to be confirmed by both houses.  As appointment of Ministers would need to be approved by both houses, it is probable that their selection would be based more on experience and expertise than on political or religious allegiance.

Similarly, the members of the Supreme Court would be nominated by the Prime Minister and confirmed by the members of both houses and the President would be elected by the membership of both houses.  The terms of office for each would remain as current, that is Supreme Court Justices would serve until age 70 and the President would serve one seven-year term.  Both houses of the legislature and the Government would serve a four-year term, or until elections are called if before four years.

In order to qualify to run for membership in either house, in addition to the commitments made when accepting citizenship, being of voting age, and not having served a prison sentence in the last seven years, the candidate would need to have been a citizen for at least four years.  This last qualification will allow the Other House to first be populated by Israeli-Arabs and other Israelis who do not wish to vote for the Knesset in order that new citizens from Gaza and the West Bank do not feel pressured to vote for members of organizations that have previously held sway in those areas.  Persons who have been affiliated with those organizations but have not been involved in violence and accept the conditions of citizenship should be allowed to run for office.

About the Author
Mr. Ashley is a Mining Engineer with 36 years of experience in the mining industry. He holds a B.S. in Mining Engineering, an M.S. in Mining Engineering (Geostatistics), and an MBA. He is also a Registered Professional Engineer in the State of Nevada (Retired). He has worked on evaluation and development of more than 50 mining projects located in Argentina, Australia, Brazil, Canada, Chile, China, India, Indonesia, Mexico, Morocco, Norway, Peru, Papua New Guinea, Saudi Arabia, Spain, Suriname, Thailand and the USA, involving commodities as diverse as aluminum (including bauxite and alumina), coal, copper, diamonds, gold, iron ore, kaolin, lignite, nickel, oil shale, potash, silver, uranium and zinc. Since his retirement he has dedicated his life to supporting causes that promote sustainable peace and development for all and working within his community to support democracy and good government doing such things as working on the Civil Grand Jury in his County and working as a Poll Worker and Trainer of Poll Workers.
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