Opposition MKs continue efforts to stop electoral reform

Henin: Bill a ‘terrorist attack’ on democracy; Tibi concerned that raising Knesset threshold would hurt Arab parties.

Dov Henin 370 (photo credit: Courtesy Twitter)
Dov Henin 370
(photo credit: Courtesy Twitter)
Opposition MKs protested raising the electoral threshold and limiting no-confidence votes as the Knesset Law, Constitution and Justice Committee continued debating electoral reform Monday.
According to opposition MKs, the meeting should not have taken place during the Knesset’s recess, which ends in two weeks, and they managed to divert the discussion from the planned topic – limiting the number of ministers to 19 – to the articles of the bill that bothered them most.
MK Michal Roisin (Meretz) accused Committee chairman David Rotem (Yisrael Beytenu) of breaking an agreement between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and the opposition since the night the electoral reform bill passed in its first reading in July.
At the time, Netanyahu told the opposition that if they do not filibuster the bill or stop the debate earlier than planned, there would be deeper discussion of electoral reform, which wouldn’t be brought to a final vote until November.
Rotem pointed out that the opposition continued speaking out against electoral reform for hours after the agreement was reached, and Roisin accused him of never planning to respect the deal in the first place.
“We’re having a meeting today and a series of deep discussions, so what [is the opposition] complaining about?” MK Ronen Hoffman, who proposed Yesh Atid’s version of the bill, wondered.
Meanwhile, opposition MKs focused on the planned electoral- threshold increase from two percent to 4 and the limitation of no-confidence motions to once a month.
“This proposal is a terrorist attack on the democratic system,” MK Dov Henin (Hadash) said. “It’s meant to give power to a minority clique and harm the rule of the majority.”
MK Ahmed Tibi (UAL-Ta’al) said Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beytenu are raising the electoral threshold to make Arab parties disappear.
“Politics are like a wheel. Sometimes you’re up, sometimes you’re down. I suggest you be more modest,” Tibi told the Yesh Atid MKs. “You may need a low electoral threshold someday.”
According to MK Orit Struck (Bayit Yehudi), “the bill is not democratic and silences minority groups.”
Roisin suggested that minorities be exempt from the electoral threshold.
As for limiting no-confidence motions to once a month, MK Uri Maklev (UTJ) said that ministers will be alienated and keep their distance from the Knesset if the bill passes.
“Ministers want to get out of showing up to the Knesset,” Maklev explained.
MK Moshe Mizrahi (Labor) wondered why the government cares so much about noconfidence votes.
“What is the point, if not to silence the opposition? Did any government fall apart because of no-confidence votes?” Mizrahi asked.
“Yes, in 1990,” Rotem retorted, in reference to the incident known as the “Stinky Deal,” led by then-minister Shimon Peres.
Labor MK Miki Rosenthal said he understands that noconfidence votes lose their effectiveness when overused, but that they cannot be taken away without giving an alternative.
“I’m a new MK, but I know that no-confidence votes are a fiction. People aren’t interested in them and they don’t make sense,” MK Karin Alharrar (Yesh Atid) stated.
At the end of the meeting, Rotem announced that the discussions will resume next week instead of Tuesday, as originally planned, because the opposition plans to continue “pointless discussions.”