Arab factions fear electoral reform

Say raising threshold to 5% aimed at eliminating them from Knesset.

By
December 3, 2006 00:56
2 minute read.
ahmed tibi solemn 298

ahmed tibi solemn 298. (photo credit: Ori Porat)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later

For most Knesset members, last week's talk of electoral reform was an opportunity to show voters they are ready to revise the system of government ahead of the next election. But for the Knesset's Arab factions, the reforms could spell the end of their involvement in the political arena. While nearly a dozen variations of a reform bill are on the Knesset table, nearly all call for raising the electoral threshold to at least five percent of the total vote. For the three Arab parties - Rahat-Ta'al, Balad and Hadash - who hold four, three and three seats respectively in the 120-seat Knesset, a 5% threshold, which would require electing at least six MKs, would mean combining to form one party or risk losing all their seats. "We have not combined and formed one list until now for good reason," said MK Ahmed Tibi (Rahat-Ta'al). "We don't have enough common ground with each other. Just because the election system changes doesn't mean we will suddenly combine for reasons of survival." There have been Arab MKs since the Knesset was founded in 1949. In recent years, tensions between the Arab factions and the rest of the Knesset have grown. Last month, when Israel Beiteinu joined the coalition, the Arab factions staged a protest, calling the current government the "most racist in Israel's history." "These new election laws will do nothing but hurt democracy by preventing us, who represent the minority, from taking part in government," said Tibi. "Maybe this is what [Israel Beiteinu chairman] Avigdor Lieberman is going for. I have reasons to think he would be very pleased to kick us out of government." A spokeswoman for Lieberman denied that he supported electoral reform as a means to keep Arab MKs out of the Knesset. Earlier this week, Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz rejected a request by several Likud and Israel Beiteinu MKs, as well as attorney Ophir Miller, to remove Balad MKs from the Knesset because of their visit to Syria. "There is a widespread feeling that they are trying to get rid of us in any way possible," said Tibi. According to MK Michael Eitan (Likud), who studied electoral reform while he was Law and Constitution Committee chairman in the previous Knesset, the reforms are not aimed at any minority. "It's not true that these laws will adversely affect one particular party," he said. "Maybe it will actually cause the Arab parties and Meretz to unite, forming one true Jewish-Arab Party. That would be a momentous step." Meretz, which has five MKs, would also be in danger of losing its seats if the electoral threshold is raised. While its chairman, MK Yossi Beilin, stressed that he was in favor of electoral reform, he suggested that the threshold be raised to 2.5% rather than 5%. "I think that 2.5% is adequate," Beilin said. "We are a small country with many different interests. Eliminating these interests would only damage our democracy."

Join Jerusalem Post Premium Plus now for just $5 and upgrade your experience with an ads-free website and exclusive content. Click here>>

Related Content

Jisr az-Zarq
April 3, 2014
Residents of Jisr az-Zarqa beckon Israel Trail hikers to enjoy their town

By SHARON UDASIN