Arab MKs Threaten Resignation Over Electoral Reforms

Knesset MK Dr. Achmad Tibi (Raam Taal). (FLASH90)
Knesset MK Dr. Achmad Tibi (Raam Taal). (FLASH90)

Arab members of Knesset have threatened collective resignation if the parliamentary body passes electoral reforms next week that would reduce their representation, The Jerusalem Post reported on Wednesday.

The Knesset is scheduled to vote on Monday to raise the threshold of representation in the Knesset from 2 to 3.25 percent, effectively raising the minimum number of MKs in a faction after the next election from two to four. The three Arab factions currently have three to four MKs, 11 in all.

Hadash leader Muhammad Barakei said the electoral reforms were aimed at preventing Arabs from entering the next Knesset. “It’s not a pleasure speaking in the Knesset under the face of Theodore Herzl,” Barakei said. “If this passes on Monday we’re considering having all the Arab MKs submit resignation letters together.”

But the walkout doesn’t have unanimous support. United Arab List-Ta’al MK Ahmed Tibi said he opposed the idea. “I won’t put my head on a silver platter for [Foreign Minister] Avigdor Lieberman,” Tibi said.

Following an Egyptian court ruling this week outlawing Hamas and shutting its offices in the country, Lieberman wrote online:

“We still have Hamas representatives sitting in the Knesset…Yisrael Beiteinu will keep working to make them illegal here as well.”

Instead, Tibi called for all the Arab MKs to unite and run in one party in the next election. He said that most of the Arab public favors such a move.

David Rotem (Yisrael Beitenu), the sponsor of the bill, said the legislation is not intended to harm the Arab MKs, but he was not fazed by the prospect of a collective resignation.

“They should all quit,” Rotem said. “We won’t lose any sleep over it.”