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What He Said, What He Meant

Tzippy Yarom

Who in the Israeli government controls the purse strings?

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

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hat He Said

“The country has entered a state of paralysis.” 

—Construction and Housing Minister Gen. (res.) Yoav Galant


What He Meant

Galant coined the word “shateket,” a nonexistent formulation of the Hebrew word shituk (paralysis) at a conference of the Kohelet Policy Forum to describe the Israeli government’s malaise.

Galant was referring specifically to the large number of legal advisors in each government ministry, whose job it is to assist the government in enforcing decisions and provide legal counsel.

The predominance of Israel’s legal advisors has long been a bone of contention, with Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked undertaking to limit their power. Israel today is in a situation where no minister can take any action without first consulting his legal advisor, who often puts the brakes on initiatives. Consequently, instead of the government ruling, it is the legal advisors who rule.


But it’s not only the legal advisors. Finance Ministry clerks have long been accused of overstepping their boundaries, amassing more and more power over the years. Now, instead of a minister being able to manage and distribute a budget, Treasury clerks have taken to demanding a reckoning for each and every expenditure — going as far as refusing to transfer the budget if they don’t agree with the allocation of the funds.

Israel often has budget surplus at the end of the year. Ever wonder how that’s possible? It’s because the Treasury clerks — those who hold the purse strings — withheld funds for goals they deemed unworthy.

Paralysis, indeed. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 683)

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