Raising the electoral threshold, as the government plans to do, is tantamount to conducting a “political transfer” against Arab parties in Israel, said MK Dov Khenin (Hadash) Thursday. Khenin was responding to reports that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman had agreed to set the threshold at 3.25%.
Combined with the current rule that parties must attain enough votes to achieve a minimum of two seats in order to be represented in the Knesset, parties would have to garner 7% of the votes cast in an election in order to sit in the Knesset. That means that parties who cannot get at least at MKs into the Knesset will not be able to serve.
The Arab political scene in Israel is extremely fractured; three parties have been able to garner only 11 seats between them out of 120, even though Arabs represent over 20% of Israel's population. Numerous efforts to unify them have led nowhere, and raising the threshold, said Khenin, was a move devised by Liberman and Netanyahu to eliminate Arab parties from the Knesset altogether.
“In the past, Liberman has proffered ideas to 'transfer' the Israeli Arab population out of the country, and now he is behind this 'political transfer' that seeks to deny Arabs fair representation in the Israeli political process,” said Khenin. “The move will place very high walls around the political system and prevent new political movements from forming.”
The arguments by those advocating such a change revolving around political stability – the theory being that it will be easier to form stable governments with larger parties – are irrelevant, said Khenin.
“Historically, it has been the large parties, not the small ones, who have brought down governments and led to new elections. They certainly did not bring to the political system the corrupt primaries or appointing of candidates by corrupt leaders. Just the opposite – the small parties have contributed top parliamentarians to the Knesset and have opened up discussion on many issues affecting the public,” he challenged
Khenin promised that the opposition in the Knesset will unify to oppose the measures. The measures are part of a law on government that is being prepared for its second and third vote in the Knesset.