Israel

   
 

Executive Summary

Strong executive, but democratic deterioration
Israel’s government has shown a mix of improvements and deteriorations in its performance. In some areas, such as executive capacity and executive accountability, it showed high improvements. In other areas, such as democratic performance, it showed a couple of deteriorations. In yet other domains, such as economic and social policies, it has demonstrated a range of advances and retreats.
Growing economy, low unemployment
Economic policies have been successful over the last decade, as Israel has shown strength in key economic indicators. Its economic growth has increased, but the inflation rate, as well as the unemployment rate, remain one of the lowest in the western world. However, the cost of living is still higher than the OECD average. With the unwillingness of Israel’s finance minister, Moshe Kahlon, to raise taxes, the deficit ceiling set by the Budget Deficit Reduction Law was exceeded by almost one percentage point in 2018.
Low social spending despite inequality
In social policies, as of 2018, Israel ranks 9th among OECD countries based on its inequality level as measured by the Gini coefficient. It also has one of the lowest rates of spending on social issues among OECD countries. Still, in some domains, it shows high levels of performance. For example, Israel’s higher education system continues to flourish, with a relatively high percentage of the population achieving a tertiary level of education. It also ranks sixth in Bloomberg’s World Health Care Efficiency Index.
Weaknesses in
educational sector
However, in primary and secondary education, Israel has continued to perform poorly. According to a 2018 UNICEF report, Israel has one of the widest gaps between the highest and lowest achieving primary school students in the OECD. These figures demonstrate substantial differences in educational performance among sub-groups of the population, such as minority and marginalized groups. Besides, there are still wage gaps between women and men in Israel. This is largely due to the position and scope of women’s jobs, with a much smaller proportion of the difference attributable to discrimination.
Civil rights, political liberties a concern
Regarding Israel’s democratic quality, Israel’s government has continued to propose and implement controversial decisions, which particularly threaten political liberties and civil rights. Above all is the legislation of Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, which has led to massive public protests. Minorities, such as Druze and Arabs, claimed that the law discriminates against minorities, especially the Arab minority, as Arabic has been downgraded from its former position as an official state language. Additionally, Israel has imposed more restrictions on NGOs, consistent with recent years.
Strong gains in
regulatory policy
In the area of executive capacity, Israel has continued reforms to provide greater detail on policies and policy goals in quantitative measures, including comparing goals over time. One of the notable improvements in its performance regards regulatory policy. In 2018, the OECD Regulatory Report Outlook mentioned that Israel was one of the top four countries with regards to regulatory improvements. Specifically, Israel has shown significant progress in its RIA processes. It also improved performance in implementing governmental decisions and secondary legislation, which had suffered from relatively low levels of implementation in recent years.
 
Concerning executive accountability, a notable event in 2018 was the establishment of the Knesset Parliamentary Oversight Coordination Unit (abbreviated in Hebrew to “Katef”), which is responsible for improving the Knesset’s abilities in monitoring and enhancing dialogue between the Knesset and the government.
Citations:
“62% of Israelis: ‘Israel is corrupted,’” Chanel 2, 22.7.2017 (Hebrew): http://www.mako.co.il/news-military/politics-q3_2017/Article-9dd21652bda6d51004.htm

“Anti-Democratic Legislation,” The Association for Civil Rights in Israel, 2017 (Hebrew): https://www.acri.org.il/he/wp-content/uploads/2017/11/anti-democratic-legislation1117.pdf

Barket, Amiram, “BoI research chief warns against tax cuts,” Globes, 2017 (Hebrew): http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-boi-research-chief-warns-against-tax-cuts-1001215058

Barket, Amiram, “Israel’s budget surpluses are becoming a habit,” Globes, 2017 (Hebrew): http://www.globes.co.il/en/article-israels-budget-surpluses-are-becoming-a-habit-1001207772

“Education at a Glance 2018: OECD Indicators.” OECD website
https://www.oecd-ilibrary.org/education/education-at-a-glance-2018_eag-2018-en

Harkov, Lahav. “New Knesset Department Will Remind Gov’t to Implement Laws.” Jerusalem Post, 2017:
https://www.jpost.com/Israel-News/New-Knesset-department-will-remind-govt-to-implement-laws-500645

“Israeli Democracy Index 2017,” the Israel Democracy Institute, 12.12.2017: https://en.idi.org.il/articles/20283

Keder-Ezaria, Shira, “UN: Israel one of the worst children education gaps in the western countries,” Haaretz, 2018:
https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-educational-inequality-in-israel-among-worst-in-developed-world-unicef-reports-1.6609686

“OECD Regulatory Policy Outlook 2018.” OECD Website:
http://www.oecd.org/gov/oecd-regulatory-policy-outlook-2018-9789264303072-en.htm

“Poverty and Social Gaps: Annual Report,” National Insurance Institute (“Bituah Leumi”), 2017 (Hebrew): https://www.btl.gov.il/Publications/oni_report/Documents/oni2016.pdf

Wootliff, Raoul. “Final text of Jewish nation-state law, approved by the Knesset early on July 19.” Times of Israel. 2018: https://www.timesofisrael.com/final-text-of-jewish-nation-state-bill-set-to-become-law/

Ministry of Justice. The basic law: Israel – the Jewish nation-state (Hebrew): https://fs.knesset.gov.il/20/law/20_lsr_504220.pdf
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