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MKs From Across Gamut Pushing for Higher Knesset Threshold

Legislative effort would gradually raise the percentage of the vote that parties would need to qualify for representation in the Knesset; MKs hope proposal will pass during this session to take effect in next elections.

About a third of Knesset members from across the political spectrum have joined a legislative effort to gradually raise the percentage of the vote that parties would need to qualify for representation in the Knesset.

Under Israel's proportional representation system, Knesset seats are filled based on a party's share of the total vote. The minimum percentage has been raised over the years, most recently to 2 percent in 2004. The new initiative would gradually raise it to 3 percent, thereby barring parties that garner a lower share of the vote from representation.

The proposed change to 3 percent is the initiative of Yisrael Beiteinu's Faina Kirshenbaum, together with Yohanan Plesner (Kadima ) and Yariv Levin (Likud ). Levin chairs the Knesset House Committee, which deals with parliamentary procedure.

Supporters of the proposal hope it will attract the support of a majority of MKs from across the board and that it can be passed during this session so it can take effect in the next elections. Elections must be held no later than October of next year.

Sponsors of the change describe it as an effort to head off a situation in which small parties exert power beyond their parliamentary representation, resulting in polarization of the parties that they say would make it difficult to form a stable government coalition. Because of Israel's proportional system, no single party is expected to garner a majority of the vote, making a coalition necessary to form a majority government.

An increase in the minimum vote required for Knesset representation could exclude a number of parties currently represented in the Knesset from seating MKs after the next election, including Defense Minister Ehud Barak's Atzmaut faction, which broke away from the Labor Party.