The Supreme Court is hearing Sunday morning an appeal from representatives of Arab parties who argue that the Knesset law raising the limit of the number of votes needed for a party to elect Knesset Members violates human rights.
The Basic Law on Human Rights gives the court power to overthrow Knesset laws it thinks don’t meet its standards of equality, which are totally subjective.
The Knesset this year raised the “threshold” from 2 percent to 3.25 percent for a party to be represented in the Knesset.
The law was sponsored by Yisrael Beitenu and hoped to do away with a lot of little parties vying to be in the coalition. The higher limit theoretically discourages tiny parties from running but it also could mean that the Arab parties, unless they unite, will not win enough votes to return to the Knesset.
In the 2013 elections, 32 parties ran, of which, 20 did not win enough votes to enter the Knesset.
Among them were Moreshet Avot, which won a grand total of 461 votes, the Pirate party, with 2,076 votes, the Greens and Youth, which garnered 8,117 votes, and the Green Leaf pro-marijuana party, with 43,734 votes but still only a little more than half the number needed for representation.
All told, approximately 240,000 votes., worth three Knesset seats, went to losers.
There are two Arab parties in the outgoing Knesset, one with four MKs and the other with three MKs. An Arab-Jewish party – Hadash – has three MKs.
Lawyers for the Arab parties argued that the higher limit violates their human rights and equality.
They didn’t mention it, but it also increases the extortion capabilities of the mid-sized parties that become far more important for their electoral size.
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein approved the law and told the court that it was not aimed at the Arab parties but was designed to make the elections and the government more manageable.
If the court overturns the law, it would make it easier for a third Sephardi party to enter the race and would increase the chances that the right-wing Otzma, headed by Michael Ben-Ari, will win Knesset representation.
If so, its seats would come at the expense of the Jewish Home party, making it harder for Binyamin Netanyahu to form a coalition if the Likud wins the election. Otzma is not likely to join a government that talks about “two states” and does not make it clear that all of Judea and Samaria is part of Israel.