Israel’s New Electoral Law Hinders Arab Moderates, Helps Jewish Extremists

Israel’s upcoming election will be the first conducted under the requirement that a party must win a minimum of four seats—the previous minimum was 2.4—to gain representation in the Knesset. Among its deleterious consequences, writes Evelyn Gordon, the change will prevent the formation of a moderate Arab party—despite the fact that opinion polls show Israeli Arabs to be overwhelmingly dissatisfied with the current parties, which are mouthpieces for the pro-Palestinian cause and have categorically refused to join any governing coalition:

Israel has an obvious interest in facilitating the growth of new Arab parties that would reflect [most Arab Israelis’] priorities. Arabs’ attitudes toward the state would presumably improve if their representatives could join the cabinet and produce concrete benefits for their community instead of being condemned by their own anti-Israel rhetoric to shout empty slogans eternally from the opposition benches. And Jewish attitudes toward the Arab minority would presumably improve if Arab MKs stopped attacking Israel night and day and instead started working for their constituents’ welfare.

Encouragingly, such parties even exist already, spurred by similar poll findings in 2012. In 2013, none of them got in, but this year, their prospects should have been better. . . . Instead, the higher electoral threshold has made it impossible.

Likewise, the new law has allowed the extreme-right politician Baruch Marzel to improve his chances by allying with Eli Yishai, former head of the Mizraḥi Shas party.

Israel doesn’t benefit from having anti-Arab extremists like [Baruch] Marzel in the Knesset. In contrast, [Eli] Yishai’s party actually serves two important functions. First, it has attracted [Mizraḥi] voters who aren’t ready to abandon identity politics but would rather not support a convicted criminal like Shas leader Aryeh Deri. [Second,] polls currently show Shas losing about four seats, with many of those votes going to Yishai. If Shas pays a real electoral price for reinstating the corrupt Deri, other parties may think twice about tolerating corruption within their own ranks. . . .

[In sum,] the higher threshold has actually empowered Jewish extremists while disempowering Arab moderates—the worst of all possible outcomes.

Read more at Evelyn Gordon

More about: Eli Yishai, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Israeli politics, Mizrahi Jewry, Shas


Hamas’s Hostage Diplomacy

Ron Ben-Yishai explains Hamas’s current calculations:

Strategically speaking, Hamas is hoping to add more and more days to the pause currently in effect, setting a new reality in stone, one which will convince the United States to get Israel to end the war. At the same time, they still have most of the hostages hidden in every underground crevice they could find, and hope to exchange those with as many Hamas and Islamic Jihad prisoners currently in Israeli prisons, planning on “revitalizing” their terrorist inclinations to even the odds against the seemingly unstoppable Israeli war machine.

Chances are that if pressured to do so by Qatar and Egypt, they will release men over 60 with the same “three-for-one” deal they’ve had in place so far, but when Israeli soldiers are all they have left to exchange, they are unlikely to extend the arrangement, instead insisting that for every IDF soldier released, thousands of their people would be set free.

In one of his last speeches prior to October 7, the Gaza-based Hamas chief Yahya Sinwar said, “remember the number one, one, one, one.” While he did not elaborate, it is believed he meant he wants 1,111 Hamas terrorists held in Israel released for every Israeli soldier, and those words came out of his mouth before he could even believe he would be able to abduct Israelis in the hundreds. This added leverage is likely to get him to aim for the release for all prisoners from Israeli facilities, not just some or even most.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Gaza War 2023, Hamas, Israeli Security