MKs Accuse Netanyahu of Power Grab in Raising Electoral Threshold

MKs: We have to watch the news just to learn what's going on.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his main coalition partner, Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, agreed to raise the electoral threshold from two to 3.25 percent, bypassing the Knesset committee assigned to the discuss the matter.

MKs of the Constitution, Law and Justice Committee say they were not even notified of the decision when they sat down to discuss the threshold Monday morning and they accused Netanyahu of making a mockery of the legislative process.

The committee members found themselves going over completely different numbers: four percent, as suggested by MK Ronen Hoffman (Yesh Atid); three and a half percent, as demanded by MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu); and three percent, as suggested by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnuah). Opposition MK Merav Michaeli (Labor) wanted to lower the electoral threshold to just one percent.

After learning of the decision, the committee's MKs said they had been deceived. “I felt that the Knesset had no real part in this legislation,” said MK Adi Kol (Yesh Atid). “Does anybody know what the electoral threshold is that we’re supposed to be discussing? We’re hearing what the threshold is from the media. We’re all sitting here and waiting for the government to decide what the electoral threshold is.”

Rotem, who serves as the committee’s chairman, said, “It’s true that the decisions are being made elsewhere. In the end, we represent the governing coalition.”

MK Orit Strock (Habayit Hayehudi) was furious. “This is contempt of the Knesset. All of the clauses of the law that we discussed are nice decorations, but everybody knows that this law’s purpose is to raise the electoral threshold and allow the large parties to push the small ones aside,” she said. “The decision to raise the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent is like shooting an arrow and then drawing the target around it. It’s too harsh, heavy-handed and revolting toward the populations that they’re trying to keep out.”

Lieberman and Netanyahu, earlier this year. Jerusalem, November 11, 2013. Credit: Emil Salman

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