The Supreme Court has struck down a petition against the Knesset law which raised the electoral threshold from 2 percent to 3.25 percent — a change that effectively forces Arab parties to run in joint slates in order to gain Knesset representation. Eight justices dismissed the petition with the only opposition coming from the court’s sole Arab justice, Salim Joubran. The court’s reasons were not specified due to the tight timeline before the March 17 election, requiring that all lists be presented by the end of this month. The majority included outgoing President of the Court Asher Grunis as well as the incoming President Justice Miriam Naor, joined by Justices Esther Hayut, Neal Hendel, Hanan Melcer, Uzi Vogelman, Yoram Danziger and Elyakim Rubinstein. Justice Joubran found himself odd man out on the bench — just as he was in another recent ruling, supported by four other Jewish judges, to suspend MK Haneen Zoabi from the Knesset.
In a debate held last month Justice Grunis commented that the claim that the amended law would lead to a unification of the Arab lists (since individual Arab parties are unlikely to cross the threshold) and thus to the exclusion of Arab voters was purely speculative. In the laconic ruling just handed down it was stated that “this amendment can be challenged again before the elections to the 21st Knesset, based on the results of the impending elections for the 20th Knesset, all in the context of the electoral threshold.”
The petition against the new law, passed by the Knesset last March, was brought forth by two citizens who were joined by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and by Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel. During the court’s deliberations, Justice Joubran commented that the law was “redundant. The majority in this country will be evaluated by its treatment of minorities.”