Labor leadership candidate Isaac Herzog called on Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and opposition leader Tzipi Livni on Monday to join forces with Labor
in an effort to raise the threshold for entering the Knesset.
only 2 percent of the vote is needed for a party to enter the Knesset with three
seats. In a letter to Livni and Netanyahu, the heads of the two largest parties,
he called for the three parties to draft a bill doubling the threshold to
4%. (It was 1% before 1992 and 1.5% from 1992–2003.)
“Such a bill would
guarantee that the next Knesset would have fewer factions and would contribute
to the strengthening of the large parties,” Herzog wrote. “It would also deter
splitting into factions that would not pass the threshold.
importantly, the bill would guarantee that the next government would have fewer
factions, which would decrease the coalition extortion that exists
In the letter, Herzog referred indirectly to Defense Minister
Ehud Barak’s Independence faction, which split off from Labor and which polls
show would have a difficult time passing the current threshold.
told the Labor faction on Monday that the party should unite behind his effort
to raise the threshold. But faction chairman Eitan Cabel and MK Shelly
Yacimovich, Herzog’s rival for the Labor leadership, immediately said they
opposed his idea.
Raising the threshold is one of several ideas being
considered by a committee on electoral reform, made up of representatives of
parties in the coalition and led by Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz, who is
close to Netanyahu.
Shas, United Torah Judaism and Habayit Hayehudi
strongly oppose raising the threshold. A spokesman for Independence faction head
Einat Wilf said her faction was in favor doing so in stages.
Beiteinu MK David Rotem also proposed an electoral reform maneuver on Monday,
submitting a bill that would enable a candidate who has been convicted of a
crime to run for prime minister.
Asked whether he was referring to his
party chairman, Avigdor Lieberman, who is currently under investigation, he
expressed hope that Lieberman would not be convicted, but said the bill could
apply to former ministers Tzachi Hanegbi and Aryeh Deri.