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Knesset approves bill that could push Arab parties out

After a stormy night session, the coalition was able to pass the necessary amendments and election laws that would make it more difficult to topple a government and eliminate small factions. Left-wing and Palestinian members of Knesset protested the legislation in ‘silent speeches.’ Ultra-Orthodox MK Eichler spoke to the Arab public in Arabic, saying ‘we are with you.’ (video below)

Knesset Members protest in silence the rise of election threshold to 4 percent, a move that could see all Palestinian perties eliminated. From top-left corner: MK Barakeh (Hadash); MK Tibi, with back to the Knesset (Ra’am Ta’al); MK Zoabi (Balad); MK Gal-On (Meretz); MK Zahalka, with tape on his mouth (Balad); MK Gafni (United Torah Judaism); MK Zandberg (Meretz); MK Michaeli (Labor); MK Horowitz (Meretz)

During the last session of the Knesset before its summer recess, the coalition was able to pass a first reading of the “governance legislation,” – an amendment to Israel’s Basic Laws – which would make it more difficult for the opposition to topple the government and for smaller fractions to enter the Knesset. Those who will be most hurt by these amendments are the parties representing the Palestinian public – Balad, Hadash and Raam-Ta’al. The legislation, which could see all of those parties eliminated in the next elections, is considered a major step in the attempt to limit Palestinian representation in Israeli politics.

After the bill was approved in its first reading Wednesday night, Arab Knesset members and several left-wing MKs protested it by standing in silence on the Knesset podium. A unique moment took place when ultra-Orthodox Knesset member Yisrael Eichler (United Torah Judaism) made a short statement against “the persecution of the Arab and the ultra-Orthodox by the government.” Eichler ended his words in Arabic – “we are with you in your struggle for democracy” (video below, 1:14 and then again 1:31 min) – before using the rest of his time to join the silent protest.

Both Orthodox parties, Shas and United Torah Judaism, are now part of the opposition.

The new legislation is a joint initiative of Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party and Avigdor Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu. According to an amendment to the Basic Law on Government (one of several laws which are the Israeli equivalent of a constitution, and can only be changed by an absolute majority), the government will not fall following a no-confidence vote, unless a new collation is presented within three weeks. The government will also stay in power even when it cannot pass a budget (today, such an event leads to new elections).

The article that got most of the attention was the proposal to raise the election threshold for a party to enter Knesset from the current two percent, to four percent. This means that a party which receives fewer than five Knesset seats won’t enter the parliament, and all of the votes cast for it will be lost.

The parties most at risk are the ones representing the Palestinian public in Israel. All three non-Jewish parties would be eliminated from the Knesset under the new legislation, if elections were held today. The authors of the law claim that the Arabs should join forces and run under a single list to avoid being expelled from the Knesset – but besides being obviously patronizing, such a demand ignores the deep political gaps within the Arab society, such as the difficulty of secular factions such as Hadash and Balad uniting with the Islamic movement.

The new law would also pose a threat to the Jewish-Arab coalition Hadash – the only such joint party in the Knesset today.

Yair Lapid and Avigdor Lieberman threw their full political weight behind the new law, which required an absolute majority of over 61 votes to pass. Following a filibuster attempt by the opposition held on the previous night, David Rotem of Lieberman’s Yisrael Beitenu party called a special session at 3:30 a.m. so that his Knesset committee could push the bill forward.

Adi Koll, a member of Lapid’s party, abstained during the first part of the vote, which dealt with the issue of no-confidence and ended with the coalition winning 63 to 46. Koll was forced to publicly apologize for her act, and was later stripped of some of her Knesset rights by Lapid. She then supported the bill in the second part of the vote, which dealt specifically with the Knesset threshold, and also passed by 64 to 49.

The vote was postponed to the evening so that Justice Minister Tzipi Livni (who was on her way back from the negotiations in Washington) could attend. Along with the “dovish” members of her party, Amir Peretz and Amram Mitzna, Livni helped provide the necessary votes to guarantee the bill’s success.

Former Knesset speaker Reuven Rivlin was the only Likud member to oppose the bill, due to its effect on the political representation of minorities in Israel.

The “governance legislation” package will now go back to the Knesset committees, where some amendments could still be introduced. The second and third readings are expected in the fall.

Later that night, the coalition passed (again) a bill mandating a referendum in the Israeli public in any event of evacuation of Israeli territory. This legislation will also be completed in the fall.

What Yair Lapid’s anti-Zoabi comments reveal about Israeli politics
Palestinian MK Zoabi: Voting in Israeli elections is part of the struggle

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    1. Kolumn9

      I stand in solidarity with the Arab population in their grief over their inability to fully express the variety of their political opinions in the Parliament of the enemy of their people (as Ms. Zoabi classified the state of Israel). It is going to be tragic to see parties forced to make alliances. For example, how can Hadash (which in 1996 ran on a joint list with Balad and in 2003 ran with Ahmed Tibi) be expected to even consider running with Balad or Ahmed Tibi in the future? It is just inconceivable. And then there is the tragic case of the UAL (which is a coalition of the southern Islamic movement, the Arab Democratic Party and Ahmed Tibi’s Taal). Such a pure ideological party should NEVER be forced into coalitions with other parties. It would be a betrayal of everything they hold holy were they forced into an electoral alliance with say Hadash. Evil. Just evil. Democracy has died today.

      Likewise I stand in solidarity with the UTJ (a combination of Degel HaTorah and Agudat Israel (itself a combination of the political power of the Ger, Vizhnitz and Belz Hassidic courts along with dozens of smaller Hassidic families)) and Yisrael Eichler in his solidarity with the possibility that the Arab parties may have to combine forces to ensure their representation in the Knesset. Yisrael Eichler, a man that has devoted his life to the rights of the Arab population in Israel, should consider combining strength with Balad and Hadash in view of his newly found ideological fervor for a secular state in Israel. Certainly he would have made the same speech if his party was in the coalition in place of the anti-Jewish, anti-Democratic (his words) forces like Yesh Atid.

      Tragic. Just tragic. The tears are welling up in my eyes as I write these words. Oh the travesty, the horror of it all. I can write no more, except “Nachna Maakum” and “Hummus”.

      Reply to Comment
      • Palestinian

        Their enemy came to them not the opposite.You dont like it, leave and go back to Russia ,Poland or wherever your parents , grandparents ,….where imported from.I know I know … your family has been living in Palestine for hundreds of years , just like Shimon Peres !

        Reply to Comment
        • Kolumn9

          If we are their enemy they are welcome to find a home elsewhere where they can be loyal citizens rather than collecting a salary paid for with my taxes while trying with all their strength to prevent the Israeli Arab population from integrating.

          As a result of this reform I would love to in the future nostalgically miss Ms. Zoabi’s speeches in the Knesset, but alas, despite this silly storm in a teacup, it is unlikely that much will actually change in the Arab representation in the Knesset.

          Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            Loyal? loyal to thieves and terrorists?…and as Tibi once said ” Whoever got here last will be leaving first”

            Russia,Poland and Germany ,here they come.It possible we pay your tickets although you dont deserve it!

            Reply to Comment
          • CigarButNoNice

            Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, here they come. We’ll gladly pay the air fare even though you don’t deserve it.

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          • Palestinian

            I didnt know Zionists imported Jewish Saudis …

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          • rsgengland

            The Israeli Muslims comprise at least 20% of Israels population.
            That is well above the 4% threshold that is being set.
            So in reality there is no danger to their political representation, othe than by their own machinations.
            As in all DEMOCRACIES, Yesh Atid pledged in their manifesto to do certain things.
            And lo and behold, they are keeping their promises on voting and army
            If Zoabi and all the others of her ilk want to be Palestinian, let them decamp to Gaza or the West Bank, where if Abbas gets his way, there won’t be any Jews.
            Then they won’t have to see and deal with these pesky Jews, in this tiny little place called the Jewish Home.
            Or they can live and participate in the vibrant, lively, noisy, disorganized Democracy called Israel.
            And as much as they all love to deny it, the only DEMOCRACY in the Middle East, by a long shot and by any measure.

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          • Kolumn9

            In that case the Arabs are leaving first. I wish them the best of luck in the country of their choice and would gladly sponsor their airfare. Alternatively they can stay, integrate, be loyal and become full partners in my country. Their choice.

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          • Palestinian

            “Whoever got here last will be leaving first””

            Lets see , my grandfather was born in Lifta in 1919 and Shimon Peres immigrated to Palestine in 1933 which means that Polish monkey will have to leave.Hard luck ya rokhi

            Reply to Comment
        • CigarButNoNice

          We indigenous Palestinians =Jews are staying here on our one only homeland. It’s you members of the Arab nation who need to go back to Arabia instead of colonizing our lands.

          Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            “We indigenous Palestinians =Jews ” hahaha and I’m queen Elizabeth ! Khabibti back to Khazaria yalla

            Reply to Comment
          • CigarButNoNice

            Stormfront is this way ——>

            People like you who view everything from the prism of race (while accusing the other side of that – textbook projection!) will find that cesspool a perfect fit.

            Only Jews are Palestinians. Arabs aren’t Palestinians. Arabs are indigenous to Arabia and must decolonize Palestine for the sake of justice and peace. No justice, no peace!

            Reply to Comment
          • Palestinian

            If Jewish Russians are Palestinians then monkeys are reptiles ….

            Reply to Comment
          • David T.

            “We indigenous Palestinians =Jews are staying here on our one only homeland.”

            So you or your ascendents were citizens of Palestine in 1948 and therefore had political rights to decide its future?

            Reply to Comment
      • Laurent Szyster


        For making it clear how hypocrit and delusionnal one must be to write an article at +972.

        Reply to Comment
    2. XYZ

      I oppose the proposal to raise the electoral threshold, for many of the reasons that Noam states, but it is incorrect to state that it would damage Arab representation in the Knesset. Yes, it would require merging forces which have different interests, such as the Islamic movement and the more secular groups, but the Ashkenazi Haredim faced the same problem when the threshold was raised the last time. Today, the Ashkenazi Haredi party, United Torah Judaism, is made up of at least three different factions or groups that have a very uneasy coexistence, but they stay together. Since a united Arab party would have no problem passing even the new threshold, I don’t see why a united list couldn’t be formed and freedom would be given to the elected MK’s to vote on issues controversial to the Arab population. But, as I said, I oppose increasing the threshold since this designed merely to entrench the existing parties and to prevent future competition.

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      • Why stop there? Let’s force the United Torah Judaism to unite with Meretz – both are Jewish, no?

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        • XYZ

          Interesting idea. I have seen conspiracy theories out there that say the civil wars in Iraq and Syria are due to a Jewish/Zionist conspiracy to get the brother Arab/Muslims to fight one another. Here, in Israel, on the other hand, Noam is pointing out that there is a Jewish/Zionist conspiracy to force the Arabs to cooperate and work together against their will. There is no end to these Zionist machinations, is there?

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          • Yes, XYZ, Noam is a Zionist Conspiracy theorist; his directing memories have been suppressed so that he believes he believes in pluralism and human rights. Subtle is the opposition!

            Maybe he thinks that not all Jews want to get on the same party boat; and similary for Arabs. 2% has created a marginal party structure; this Bill is designed, among other things, to alter that structure. For the stability of Israel.

            (I have indeed changed my email, 972)

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        • Kolumn9

          UTJ can unite with Shas. Meretz can unite with Labor or with Hadash. What precisely is the problem? That it forces some parties to be ever so slightly more broad to appeal to a larger audience? I see this as a good thing.

          This ridiculous melodrama is the result of some Arab MKs fearing that they might not be reelected as if the function of the Knesset is to ensure job security for Arab MKs. It is quite likely that this change will also wipe out Kadima, haTnua and will prevent Otzma L’Israel from running in the future and will prevent Tkuma running independently of the Jewish Home party. So what?

          Then there is the silly charge that Arab parties are distinctly ideological creatures. This too is nonsense. They are themselves often amalgamations of various political forces. They have run together and separately in the past. If they are forced to come up with a more inclusive message in the future to appeal to a larger cross-section of Arab society then so be it. Or perhaps it will force the “Jewish” parties to become more inclusive to appeal to the Arab population in order to win elections. Again, what is the problem other than the fact that some Arab MKs may lose the chairs they have gotten so comfortable with?

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    3. Philos

      If Lapid’s haradei baiting pushes UTJ and towards a political affiliation with the other most oppressed people in Israel (those OECD stats on poverty in Israel are largely about haradeim and Palestinian Israelis) then I may welcome that charlatans entrance into politics. The haradeim and Palestinian-Israelis, as well as large segments of the Mizrachi and Ethiopian communities, are all natural allies against the dominant socio-political hegemony in Israel

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      • Kolumn9

        Indeed. It is quite a dilemma why Zoabi, Tibi, Fuad, Yishai, Ben-Dahan, Shlomo Mula and Yisrael Eichler have yet to form a party and run together. They have so much in common…

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    4. Danny

      Perhaps this can push the Arabs to finally unite their forces and run in the next elections as a multi-platform, multi-leader party that can draw close to 100% of the Arab vote in Israel. Such a party would have 25 seats in the knesset! I daresay that such a move could spur the Jewish left (the pure left, excluding the charlatans such as Livni, Lapid and Olmert) to do the same, and draw another 25 seats.

      I’d like to see Lieberman’s and Lapid’s faces when that happens!

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    5. Richard Witty

      What is the threshold for parliamentary participation now?

      Is it much different?

      How significant do you think this really is?

      The effort should be to form integrated parties that have appealing platforms that are beyond nationalism.

      Work to achieve a 25% representation, undeniable.

      On 972 in the last election, all but two of the writers that stated an opinion, stated that the elections were irrelevant, hopeless.

      And, then the results surprised everyone, not necessarily hopeful, but different, indicating that the populace’s ideas and affiliations were moveable.

      And, if so, and the 972 writers urged that no movement occur, that does NOT make the 972 writers that suggested boycotting the election actually or relatively, progressives.

      Sorry to say. We need you to put your weight into electoral issues especially.

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    6. After each 10 year census in the US, State legislatures must redistrict their Congressional seats based on proportional changes in national representation. At that time, parties controling State legislatures and governorships try to lock in safe seats for that party or destabilize or eliminate seats held by the opposition; only the Justice Department (held by one of the parties) and court review can check such opportunities, with some but limited success; present Supreme Court jurisprudence acts against these checks.

      This Bill is designed to limit alternative represenation (of views and groups) in the name of government stability; by removing fractional parties, one hopes the major parties will be able to attract those severed, or that this vote will simply be suppressed, refusing turn out. The other portions of the Bill act similarly, reflecting worry over fragmentation. The present belief seems to be that those ruling can insure stability and would, in various form, gain under the new rules. This emphasis on stability in times of middle class crunch strikes me as Neofascism. The goal is to reduce opposition electoral base through internal competition. It could backfire, if, e.g., Arabs aligned successfully solely on the issue of Constitution; even then, however, they might well be excluded from power. I see a snickering belief that the Arabs cannot do this, and that “radical” deviation from the coaltion among Jews must also be punished. This Bill is not neutral because those parties pushing it will benefit directly; so too in the US Census.

      There really is no need for the Bill. Important calls to election would be curtailed, apart from representation. This Bill acts to increase the power of sitting Knessets and the governing coaltion thereby formed. Governance would thus limit its vulnerability; this, I submit, is neofascist.

      Reply to Comment
      • Kolumn9

        The current government is the 33rd government of Israel in the 65 years it has existed. The average Israeli government thus lasts for less than 2 years. Trying to allow a sitting government to survive for its full term is neofascist?

        Israel is raising the election threshold to 4%. Let me give you some comparative numbers:
        Germany – 5%
        Austria – 4%
        Belgium – 5%
        Czech Republic – 5%
        Italy – 4%
        Norway – 4%
        Poland – 5%

        Now, either you have a really weak grasp of how elections are held around the world or you are just purposefully being annoying.

        Reply to Comment
        • I fail to see why a coalition holding a mandate from the people should fear its own stability. Have not the people seen the truth of the right? As to early elections, did not Bibi II call for such rather recently, calculating his best chance was then?

          My point was that the actual prior cut off has evolved a representational politics in your structural minority in which that minority’s inherent divisions have grown. By raising the bar just enough to eliminate present minority parties you create a crisis in that polity. I have absolutely no doubt that a bill which would enhance Arab efficacy in the Knesset would meet your strenuous objection, without insults or disdain.

          The bill also allows a government to hold when it cannot form a budget; such failure is one of the fundamental flags of crisis in Parliamentary systems. A no confidence vote would no longer necessarily precipitate new elections if another coalition can be formed in three weeks. This latter provision allows a PM to shop around for replacements to dissenters; more political leverage accrues to the PM, s/he no longer forced to live within the constraints of initial promises (more or less).

          So, yes, the bill is neo-fascist, Israel style. Its goal is to humble the present political Arabs, remove some constraints on PM political power, and, as well, dampen left positions by forcing them into larger parties (consider the rebellion within Labor to support the bill, given that some left voters moved from Labor to Meretz). Rivlin of Likud opposes the bill for these consequences to ideological representation; but then he has suggested citizenship for occupied Palestinians as possible, too.

          This bill is designed not to create stability for Israel (you were quite able to go to war twice in recently years under the present threshold) but for your view of Israel. And, as I noted earlier, I suspect that Lapid’s support comes partially from a worry that the disaffected vote propelling him into the Knesset might not be stable. Lesser options on the outside means a greater threshold for toppling present power.

          The bill is neo-fascist in application. Without a structural minority of 20% of the electorate which has NEVER shared in coalition the case would be harder to make; but the augmentation of PM power point in that direction as well.

          You simply don’t need this. Yet Livni rushed home from the all important negotiations to help tip the scale. In any case, an absolute majority for constitutional change is pathetically weak.

          Reply to Comment
          • Kolumn9

            Then you fail to see the repetitive and systematic nature of Israeli coalition failures and government collapses – both left and right, mostly because of inter-party political bickering that have very little to do with actual governance or major underlying changes in public opinion.

            I do not believe that this bill will have any significant impact on Arab representation in the Knesset. It will force some additional coalitions between the Arab parties but it will do exactly zero in silencing Arab representation. For all the noise made here about the Arab parties they are actually entirely marginal to the underlying purpose of the bill which is to push the rest of the voting public into the center by making it much more difficult for small factions (both on the left and the right) to successfully run for Knesset. Instead, interest groups will be forced into the internal politics of the larger parties as is the case in the US.

            The other changes in the bill are indeed intended to make it more difficult to remove a sitting administration without presenting a viable replacement. They are also intended to prevent small parties in the coalition from holding the prime minister hostage during budget negotiations. Again, this is a good thing which allows the coalition to act without the artificial pressure of spoilers whose entire source of power is their marginal votes that thrown the other way could irresponsibly bring down a government with no actual intention of replacing it with another viable coalition.

            Again, I will repeat. Your claim that this bill is neofascist is absolute hogwash given that I have already demonstrated to you that it brings up the election threshold to a level consistent with other parliamentary democracies. Certainly it changes the structure of the parliamentary democracy and it does so in a measured way intended to allow a government to last more than the Israeli average of 2 years. By any reasonable standard this is a valiant objective.

            On to some more nonsense of yours. There was no rebellion in Labor to support the bill and Meretz is now polling at 12 MKs so it is at no risk whatsoever as a result of this bill. The Arab MKs are hardly humbled and you can expect to see the vast majority of them in the next Knesset. And Ruby Rivlin has now decided to go on a warpath against Bibi. Anything Bibi is for Ruby will be against.

            The bill is designed to create governing stability for Israel. I have no idea why you think this is in any way related to fighting wars. It isn’t. And I suspect Lapid’s support comes from a belief that it is the right thing to do. Also, the bill limits in law the number of ministers to 19, which is something Yesh Atid promised during the election. If I were Lapid and thinking entirely selfishly I would not support this bill because the level of support that Lapid has is anything but stable. Within one or two elections Lapid could easily be on the outside if the threshold is 4%.

            Other than throwing around BS terms like ‘neo-fascist’ you have actually provided absolutely no support for your argument. The bill does little to the representation of the 20% minority when it raises the election threshold to 4%. At most it rearranges some deck chairs. The augmentation of the PM’s power is the intended goal – to actually allow the elected coalition the room it needs to pursue the policies that it got elected for rather than spending precious time squabbling with small parties. None of this has anything to do with ‘neo-fascism’ so I fear you are just throwing that word around with no knowledge of what it actually means.

            Yes, we actually do need this. We need more stable governments which can pursue policies for a full term and that are capable of long-term planning rather than constant squabbling both within the coalition and between the various parties of the opposition. We need to allow a coalition to actually govern the country instead of being dragged down into political warfare of all against all because the MKs assume that the government will only last two years and they must always be angling for their position. We need to have mature parties with solid internal structures and orderly processes of succession and power distribution, not the current system of the malcontents in each party always being on the edge of splitting off to form their own party if they lose an internal election. We need this. We needed it 10 years ago. We will need it in 10 years if we don’t get it done now and there is absolutely no reason to delay these changes.

            Reply to Comment
          • My reply is a bit below, as a stand alone entry. I have a new laptop with a mind of its own, causing me to lose two drafts. In frustration, I accidentally placed the final attempt as stand alone.

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        • Piotr Berman

          Poland has a specific exemption from 5% threshold for parties that represent ethnic minorities, and I guess that the same is the case in other European countries because the election law was basically copied from Germany.

          Before there was no threshold and it had some nice effects. One party was PPP which is the acronym of Party of the Friends of Beer. At some point they were in the ruling coalition but not all members in the Diet agreed and there was a split into Small Beer and Large Beer.

          With 5% threshold it is hard to have colorful single issue parties which may result in unwieldy coalitions. For a number of years these folks were simply outside the Diet (it is actually called Sejm, “Seym”). An owner of a brewery organized a coalition of (1) ecologists (2) proponents of “free market” (3) haters of Catholic Church (4) Gays, Lesbians and Transgender folks and (5) generic “something has to be different” and they actually got almost 10%. But now they poll 5-6%.

          Reply to Comment
    7. By “center” you mean governing coalition, which is not identical to either representational center or center of the people. Since more than one coalition might form from a new Knesset, one cannot claim that this center represents the people in any clear way. When one party takes an absolute majority, one may claim that the party represents the people, at least in the short term. But fractional representation is rather common throughout parliamentary democracies these days, making any coalition’s claim of representing the people precarious. The conceit that “the Knesset is the people and the people are the Knesset” is mostly a mollifying slogan. “To push the rest of the voting public into the center by making it much more difficult for small factions,” as you say, is to say that you know what Israel is and should be, and that others will be forced towards this view. This is neo-fascist. The goal is to enhance the electoral potential of the present coalition, singly as much as together, by defining what the center must be. Bennett’s party is hardly center.

      The 4% rule is not essential to your goal. A PM might, not would, have more chances to form a new coalition upon fall of his original if other parties wait in the wings. 4% is designed to remove views from representation, so damage their socio economic organization base. And I think, from what you write, that the focus is not on the Arabs but Ultra Orthodox; the Arabs are collateral damage. Welfare for the perpetual students of God is the real fear.

      If the Arabs can rally around a constitutional party I think the 4% rule could backfire; but even then I suspect any Knesset to lock out even a 20% representation therein–more reason for coalition toward the center. But the Arab electorate must believe change is possible in any case, and they have good reason to doubt that. So the most likely effect of the 4% rule therein will be less local political possibility, for a while.

      Most of what you want is gained from the other provision of the bill. The 4% rule acts to remove homes for dissent; witness Labor’s losses to Meretz after Barak devastated Labor through Bibi coalition. Limiting political articulation through the 4% rule is neo-fascist as applied, and you are for this only because you are not in that category. Again, your political parties have matured under a 2% rule; changing that when most of your goals are met by other means is a strategy of silencing, as is your Boycott Law. And both are neo-fascist as applied; they are only not for you because your views are not in jeopardy of articulative loss.

      On minor points:

      1) 972 reported an internal rebellion in Labor over the party’s stand against the bill. Given Labor’s loss to Meretz and its small present standing, I can see why.

      2) By “war” I meant that your governments are fully capable of performing security under the present system. Stability is not an issue there.

      3) Your reply is well reasoned and I enjoyed reading it.

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    8. Piotr Berman

      I think that there are two very different questions:

      1. Why is the new law promoted

      2. Who will benefit

      The reaction of the “patriots” here suggests that the fact that all parties that will be inconvenienced by 4% thresholds are in the opposition and almost to the man are anti-Zionist is providing them with mirth. Ha, ha! I guess that there is a significant motivation based on this kind of satisfaction.

      However, it is quite unclear that the Zionist parties will benefit from inconveniencing the anti-Zionist parties. After all, the fractious opposition may be forced to create coalitions that will be actually beneficial. For example, Muslim and Haredi religious parties have a surprising number of shared interests: welfare payments etc. for larger families, no penalties for avoiding military service, perhaps similar views on military budget and foreign policy and so on. Religious communities usually have well defined leaders who can make a deal and the followers will follow, and the novelty of the arrangement could be actually drawing in new voters.

      Actually, Jewish religious parties have a number of options, while Arabs would have to combine conservative religious folks with Communists. My private hope would be creation of blocks that cross ethnic lines. Perhaps one day the important questions will be “what is good for Israelis” rather than “what is good for Jews”.

      Reply to Comment
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