Change in Govt. Rules Could Hurt Arab Parties

The Ministerial Law Committee approved a law to change the method of government in Israel, making politics more difficult for small parties.

David Lev ,

Israeli political parties logos 2013 election
Israeli political parties logos 2013 election
INN staff

The Ministerial Law Committee on Sunday approved a law to change the method of governance in Israel. The law was proposed by Yesh Atid, and would significantly limit the ability of smaller parties to change the balance of power in the Knesset.

Among the central tenets of the law is increasing the vote threshold at which a party can enter the Knesset. Currently, that threshold stands at about 2% of the vote, enough to require each party have a minimum number of votes to put at least two of its members in the Knesset. The Yesh Atid law would double that threshold, to 4%, requiring 4 to 5 MKs at a minimum.

The changes are expected to especially damage the chances for Arab parties to get into the Knesset, as fractious Arab politics often has small factions running independently. Experts said that the Arab parties would have the choice of either resolving their difficulties and unifying, as hareidi parties have done, or being eliminated from the Knesset entirely.

The threshold increase would take place in stages, with the threshold rising to 3% in the next elections, and to 4% afterwards.

The law also proposes to abolish the current rule that the Knesset must be dissolved if a state budget is not approved by March 31 of a given year. Failure to pass a budget in time, or the failed efforts to put together a coalition that would approve one, has been the main reason for the fall of governments and the proclamation of new elections – including for the current government, which was elected after Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu disbanded his coalition over difficulties in garnering support for a state budget.

The law will also put a legal limit on the number of ministers – 18 – that can serve in a government. The title of “minister without portfolio” will also be eliminated entirely.

The law stipulates that a majority of 70 MKs would be required to change it. The law goes up for its first reading Wednesday, and is expected to pass that vote by a large majority.