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Netanyahu's bullying gets out Arab vote

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's camera bill and other efforts to deter Arab voters backfired, leading them to vote in defiance of his intimidation.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stands behind a voting booth as he votes during Israel's parliamentary election at a polling station in Jerusalem September 17, 2019. Heidi Levine/Pool via REUTERS - RC1B8144FA90
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While tight monitoring of the Sept. 17 election results has delayed publication of the official numbers, as of the morning after, even partial results have made the situation abundantly clear. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his Likud Party's warnings that the country’s Arab parties would steal the elections had a boomerang effect. The Joint List led by Knesset member Ayman Odeh will likely be the third-largest faction in the 22nd Knesset, with at least 13 of its 120 seats, after the Likud and Blue and White. According to counted ballots, turnout among Arab voters rose by 10% compared to the April elections (60%, far higher than the record-low 49% in April). The Joint List received about 430,000 votes compared to 337,000 in April in what was quite likely a response to Netanyahu’s baseless accusations that fraud in Arab polling stations prevented him from forming a government after the April elections.

Knesset member Ahmad Tibi is chair of the Ta’al Party, one of the factions that form the Joint List. He summed up election day with, “The Arabs flocked to the polls,” paraphrasing Netanyahu’s infamous 2015 video warning of high Arab turnout and exhorting his followers to go out and vote.

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