Likud officials, ruling party in Israel, have voiced their desire to lower the electoral threshold back to 2 percent, only three years after Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu raised it to its current 3.25 percent.
Spokespersons of parties, such as Shas and Yisrael Beiteinu, were clear that the real reason behind their proposal is to increase the number of far-right deputies and decrease representatives of the Arab members of the "Joint List", thereby limiting their influence in political life.
In 2015, Israeli Knesset passed a law suggested by head of Yisrael Beiteinu, current Defense Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, and supported by right parties.
However, after the Knesset raised the threshold from 2 percent, Arab parties united to form the Joint List, which wound up winning 10.5 percent of the vote and becoming the third largest party in the Knesset after the Likud and center-left Zionist Union, with 13 seats.
Today, it seems as though Lieberman and Netanyahu both regret the decision to increase the threshold, and decided to return to the 2 percent hoping that Arab parties would dissemble.
Shas leader and Minister of Interior Arye Deri, however, does not seem to advocate the new proposal.
He attacked the PM, telling a close associate that “Netanyahu stabbed us in the back… Shas will grow stronger in the next election and doesn’t need any favors from Netanyahu."
“Netanyahu gets Shas’s support, and in response, he is initiating moves against Shas without consulting with us… Lowering the electoral threshold will not pass; don’t even try it,” Deri warned.
While the idea of dropping the threshold back to 2 percent has been raised before, other Israeli leaders were taken by surprise.
Coalition Chairman David Bitan stated that he sought such a change over a year ago but Deri blocked the move even though it did not go against the Shas.
Deri’s sources also denied claims he sought to lower the threshold.
“The claim that Minister Deri agrees to lower the electoral threshold is a lie,” a close associate said, adding that: “Shas will get stronger in the next election without anyone assisting it. Shas is strong and doesn’t need any favors.”