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Blue and White’s fatal mistake of distancing Arab voters

The Blue and White party has failed in three elections, largely due to the false assumption that building bridges with the country’s Arab citizens would scare off voters from the soft right.
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“Tonight delivered a tremendous victory,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu declared March 2 in response to the television exit poll, which predicted that his right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc would win 59 seats (with 99% of the votes counted, the right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc now reaches 58 seats). Having managed to turn the Likud into the largest party in the Knesset with 36 seats, Netanyahu is selling the results of this election as a victory for his bloc. He wants to plant in the public’s awareness that he won this election, even if, at this stage, he still doesn’t actually have the 61-seat coalition majority he needs to form a government.

The Blue and White party has challenged Netanyahu in three consecutive elections, without being able to form a government. While the right-wing, ultra-Orthodox bloc that Netanyahu established refuses to come apart, Blue and White hasn’t missed a chance to argue with its partners in the center-left bloc. There was no real need for the concept of the “Jewish majority” to dominate the discussion in the Blue and White party while causing unnecessary tension with the predominantly Arab unified Joint List. At the same time, Blue and White waged what Labor-Gesher-Meretz chairman and Knesset member Amir Peretz called an “irresponsible campaign” in an effort to win seats from that party. On election eve, Blue and White Knesset member Ofer Shelah told Channel 13 News, “We need to provide an alternative to Netanyahu in terms of our path and the very essence of our party, and not just in terms of integrity and our lack of corruption.” What is that if not a stinging critique of his party’s campaign?

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