Jewish Journal

Governability for Whom?: Arab Parties and the Knessett

by Jeremy Elster

March 24, 2014 | 5:30 am

Prior to the close of the Knesset's winter session, three amendments to the Basic Laws of Israel were passed by the coalition that cast doubt on the democratic functioning of the state. Each bills represented one demand from each of the three major coalition partners and were passed as a package to ensure the continuation of the ruling coalition. Objecting to the content of the bill and the legislative procedures taken to limit debate, the Opposition boycotted the votes while declaring the measures anti-democratic.

Yair Lapid of Yesh Atid ran on a platform of drafting the Haredim/Ultra-Orthodox into the army and promoted the "Equal Service Bill". Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu and Likud-Beiteinu successfully passed a "Referendum Law" stating that any decision to give away land in a peace deal would be subject to a Knesset vote and possible national vote. Naftali Bennett from Jewish Home and a coalition of right wing parties advanced legislation to raise the electoral threshold in a move percieved to cynically reduce the ability of Arab parties and politicians to enter the Knesset.

The Governability Law raises the electoral threshold from 2% of the national vote to 3.25 percent. At this level, the Arab parties will either need to combine to form a single list or see their power reduced or even excluded from the next Knesset. How are they approaching the upcoming challenge? Find out in the latest video report from Israel Social TV.


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Jeremy Elster is a Southern Californian native and New Israel Fund/SHATIL Social Justice Fellow working as the International Communications Coordinator for Israel Social TV...

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