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Jay Hait
American Israeli Family Law Attorney

Whose strong arm and outstretched hand will save our broken political system?

(Canva)

With the defection of Coalition Whip Idit Silman to the opposing party, the government and indeed the whole country, may be thrown into turmoil.

Israel is a country that develops incredible technologies. We band together against common enemies. We’ve even come out on top of a worldwide pandemic. But the state of our domestic affairs holds us back from even greater achievements both at home and abroad. How have we allowed our system of government to become so crippled? Why can’t we just get our act together? This Passover season I’m not sure even Hashem’s Strong Arm and Outstretched Hand will save our broken political system. It’s going to be up to us.

As illustrated by Idit Silman’s actions, the current system is dependent on minor individual politicians (with few accomplishments), who are able to seize control of the entire country. Her actions threaten our stability. They are already causing emotional turmoil and there is a huge financial risk of having to spend billions of shekels on a new election. Not to mention the threat to our position on the world stage.

I believe there are three revisions that must be made if we are going to pull ourselves out of this mess. 

  1. We have to increase the achuz hachasima (the threshold of votes a party needs to be part of the Knesset). It’s currently 3.25% but I think we should increase it to at least 10%. This way the number of political parties would be maxed out at 10. Even though I think it should be higher, we see stable European governments with a 10% threshold. So it’s worth a try. 
  2. While a member of parliament should be able to leave their party, their seat must stay with the party until the next election. It has always astounded me how people are able to get elected “on the back” of one political party and then switch alliances mid-stream. This leads to a situation where an individual member of parliament can be offered a ‘deal’ to bypass the democratic process. Seems like a wide open door for more corruption, to me. Any wealthy person can offer millions of dollars to a politician to ‘encourage’ them to jump ship to a party that better serves his business agenda. This may have already happened – who knows.
  3. Members of the Knesset should be accountable to their voters. This would be the case if the country was broken down into different districts and the number of votes allowed would be directly linked to the population ratios. Each district would elect a certain number of Knesset members. This would do away with one national vote for each party.

I understand that none of these suggestions are on the table. But we must figure out a way to go forward in some sort of unified manner, in whatever form that takes. 

For tens of generations, since the Exodus, at our Passover Seders we’ve yearned. “This year [we are] here; next year in the land of Israel. This year [we are] slaves; next year [we will be] free people.”

My personal prayer for our nation is that, “This year we are in political chaos; next year may we all be united.”

Wishing everyone a Passover, kasher vi samayeach.

About the Author
Soon after returning to Israel with his family fom a 14 year hiatus in the US, American born and bred attorney Jay Hait went through a vicious divorce exposing him to the dark side of family law in Israel. When it was all over and he came out with custody over his young children, Jay switched from corporate to family law because he knew that there had to be a better way -even within the confines of the Israeli legal system.
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