(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)
Knesset Law and Constitution Committee chairman David Rotem declared victory Tuesday after MKs decided against requiring a special vote on his proposal to raise the electoral threshold.
Rotem wants to raise the threshold from 2 percent to 3.25 percent, which would change the minimum number of MKs in a faction from two to four or five.
Such a move would make it hard for Arab factions to enter the next Knesset.
Opposition MKs succeeded last month in passing a proposal to split the threshold proposal from other electoral reforms and require 61 MKs to pass it. But this latest vote, which passed in the Knesset plenum 42-32 late Monday night, overruled the committee and reunited the electoral reform legislation.
Rotem said in the plenum that the opposition MKs had passed their proposal following a trip to Poland in which many legislators, including Rotem, were delayed several hours on a plane in Krakow. He said the MKs had taken an unfair advantage of his tiredness.
“I said when the opposition won the vote on the committee that it was a worthless technical victory that did not matter,” Rotem said Tuesday.
“I said it would be changed in the plenum, and that goal has been achieved.”
Meretz leader Zehava Gal- On said after the vote that Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman, who heads Rotem’s Yisrael Beytenu party, was using the electoral reforms as a tool to eliminate the Arab parties from the Knesset, en route to expelling them from the country.
“There is no problem with the functioning of the government in Israel,” Gal-On said. “There is a problem with the governors. The government of [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu, Liberman, and [Finance Minister Yair] Lapid ignores the basic precepts of democracy. If the threshold is raised, the majority will use its power cruelly.”
Hadash MK Afu Agbaria told right-wing MKs that rather than banish Arab factions from the Knesset, raising the threshold would lead to the rise of a large Arab party that would reach 17 mandates.
“The goal of this proposal is to Judaize this land and this Knesset,” Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi said. “Our constituents continue to place their faith in us despite all the racists who don’t want us, not in the parliament and not in this land.”