Israeli court rejects appeals of electoral threshold raise

Jerusalem, Jan 15 (IANS) Israel’s Supreme Court Wednesday rejected appeals against a government law which raised the electoral threshold to 3.25 percent of the votes, threatening the survival of smaller parties in the parliament.

An extended panel of nine judges ruled 8-1 against the appeals, brought about by two ultra-Orthodox lawyers and the Association for Civil Rights in Israel and Adalah, the legal center for Arab minority rights, Xinhua reported.
Supreme Court Justice Salim Jubran, who is an Arab, was the one who voted in favour of the petition. The judges added that they do not rule out another deliberation on the issue in future, before the next elections would take place, after viewing the outcomes of the upcoming March 17 elections.
Seats in the 120-member Israeli Knesset (parliament) are apportioned nationally, according to the percent of the total votes each party gets. Before the law was approved in March, the electoral threshold stood at two percent of the overall votes.
The controversial Governance Law, which includes the raising of the threshold was the initiative of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who claimed the solidifying the power of big parties will contribute to the ability to govern the state.
It also includes other controversial clauses, necessitating a special majority for the opposition to pass bills and overthrow a ruling government.
Human rights advocates and politicians from the opposition, who banned the vote on the law and did not attend it, said the law is aimed at kicking out the political minorities, especially the Arab parties.
Last year, in light of the new law, the Adalah Legal Center published a document stating the risk for the survival of the Arab parties due to the high threshold.

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