Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu promised the joint Likud-Yisrael Beytenu
faction on Tuesday that significant changes would be made to the electoral
system at the beginning of his new term.
Stabilizing the electoral system
is the primary demand of Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman, as well as a
key issue for likely coalition partner Yesh Atid.
In his ceremonial
speech to the newly sworn-in Knesset, Netanyahu said it was wonderful that
ministers and committee chairmen were able to do their jobs for four years
because his last government lasted that long, but that more had to be done to
ensure political stability for the future.
“It cannot be that the country
facing the most challenges should suffer from instability and a weak electoral
system,” Netanyahu said in the speech.
The prime minister told the Likud
Beytenu faction that meetings would be held soon, to bridge the gaps between the
Likud and Yisrael Beytenu on electoral reform.
Israel Katz, who chaired a coalition committee on the issue in the outgoing
government, said the two parties had already come closer on key electoral
Liberman has given up his hope for an electoral system that
resembles a presidential system, which no other party backed.
has abandoned its support for direct regional elections for part of the Knesset,
that once had the backing of Labor and Kadima, but that Labor leader Shelly
Yacimovich opposes, and Kadima no longer has enough power to
Katz said the Likud and Yisrael Beytenu agree on raising the
electoral threshold from 2 to 3 percent.
In the last Knesset, Shas,
United Torah Judaism, and Bayit Yehudi opposed such a move, but all three
parties can now support it because Bayit Yehudi and UTJ have grown and Shas has
lost mandates due to small parties that might not have run, had the threshold
The Likud and Yisrael Beytenu also both back making it
harder to topple a government by requiring a special majority for no-confidence
votes. Legal advisers are investigating whether such a change could be
implemented in the current Knesset.
Two issues on which the Likud and
Yisrael Beytenu are divided are limiting the size of the cabinet and whether the
leader of the largest party should automatically be prime
Yisrael Beytenu, like Yesh Atid, wants there to be only 18
ministers, while the Likud wants more.
Katz warned Liberman in the
faction meeting that making the leader of the largest party prime minister
automatically would result in ad hoc coalitions of parties ahead of elections
just for the sake of winning.
He warned that this could cause “chaos,”
because a prime minister could be elected who would not be the leader of the
largest bloc in the Knesset.
Liberman responded that his support for the
change was “not holy” and a source close to him said he was willing to
Culture and Sport Minister Limor Livnat called upon Netanyahu
to take action to change the system for electing the party’s MKs while he
changes the electoral system of the state. She complained that the present
system of holding primaries among the party’s members enabled people who do not
vote Likud to decide the party’s Knesset slate.