Israel Raises Electoral Threshold to 3.25 Percent

Arab and religious parties boycott the controversial governance law, which was packaged with two contentious proposed laws.

Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis
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Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

The Knesset passed the Governance Law in its third reading on Tuesday with a majority of 67 votes, thereby raising the electoral threshold from 2 percent to 3.25 percent.

The vote was boycotted by the opposition parties, among them the Labor Party, Shas, United Arab List-Ta'al and United Torah Judaism.

The governance law is part of a package deal of three proposed laws – a way to pressure coalition parties to pass all three. The other two are the law to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military and the law requiring that withdrawal from Israeli-held territory first be approved in a referendum. Coalition sources say that if not for the package deal, a majority of the coalition would vote against passing all three bills into law.

Speaking to his Likud faction Tuesday morning before the vote, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu comments on the three bills: "At first they said the coalition was weak, now they are saying it is too strong. It is good that the Israeli people to have a strong government and a strong coalition, through which we can guarantee security, economy, development of Israeli society and advancement of legislation."

Regarding the governance law, Netanyahu said "the people of Israel need a strong and stable government, and less fragments of parties," adding that his government would continue to pursue this issue during his term. Regarding the draft law,

Netanyahu said that "two years ago we undertook to pass a new law. We promised a proportional response that takes the world of Torah into account and does not tear the public apart." On the referendum bill, Netanyahu guaranteed that any agreement be brought before the public.

Foreign Minster Lieberman, one of the bill's initiators, said that the electoral threshold in the "enlightened world" is higher than ours. "In Austria, Norway and Sweden it is four percent, Germany and New Zealand, five percent."

The Knesset plenum.Credit: Emil Salman

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