Knesset threshold bill could be roadblock for small parties

The bill is intended to strengthen the two largest parties at the expense of smaller ones.

August 11, 2016 17:03
1 minute read.

PM Benjamin Netanyahu at the Knesset. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)


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Likud MK Sharren Haskel initiated an effort Thursday that, if passed into law, could result in multiple parties not making it into the next Knesset.

According to the proposal, which is intended to strengthen the two largest parties at the expense of smaller ones, the electoral threshold would be raised from 3.25 percent to 7%.

With the higher cut off, it could, for instance, be hard for Meretz, Yisrael Beytenu, United Torah Judaism and Shas to make it into the next Knesset.

Haskel said she hoped that, if her bill passed, fewer parties would run; smaller parties would have to unite; and it would be easier for the Likud, as the ruling party to run the country.

The threshold was raised from 2% ahead of the last election in a move initiated by Yisrael Beytenu that was seen as intended to harm the Arab parties. Due to the bill, four Arab parties ran together in the 2015 election as the Joint List.

Zionist Union MK Yoel Hasson endorsed Haskel’s proposal and said he would try to persuade his party to back it.

“Finally, a smart initiative that comes from Likud,” Hasson said. “We must return to having two large parties in Israel.”

But coalition chairman David Bitan said Thursday night he opposed the bill and would not promote it.

“I think the threshold should be lowered, not raised” he said. “We saw that raising it doesn’t change anything, because parties can unite and split again.”

A Ma’agar Mohot poll taken for the Radio Lelo Hafsaka station, which is owned by The Jerusalem Post, found that if elections were held now, Yesh Atid would continue its rise at the expense of the Zionist Union.

Likud would win 27 seats, Yesh Atid 21, Bayit Yehudi and the Joint List 13 each, Zionist Union 10, Yisrael Beytenu nine, Shas eight, UTJ seven and Kulanu and Meretz six each, according to the poll.

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