As Israel warms up for its fourth elections in the course of two years of political fierce competition between Benjamin Netanyahu and Benny Gantz, the Israeli Prime Minister is starting to use new techniques to draw voters, including the Arab ones.
Even though he had warned his Jewish fanbase of "Arabs flocking voting centers in droves" in 2015, Benjamin Netanyahu seems more desperate than ever; that he is starting to appeal for the Arab population of Israel.
Arabic-reading billboards in Arab neighborhoods often suffering state neglect are one clear example of how the Israeli PM is trying to score yet another term in office during the election planned to take place on the 23rd of March. He is being referred to as 'Abu Yair' the same way Arab men call themselves by the names of their firstborns and is making TikTok videos from Bedouin tents where he pores coffee to men sitting on the floor with him, in the traditional Arab style.
Israeli PM Netanyahu -Abuyair- drinks coffee with the Arabs of Israel, indicating tolerance and human coexistence with all spectrums... https://t.co/9UxVfcp9SL— Irina Tsukerman (@irinatsukerman) March 7, 2021
Yet, Netanyahu's eagerness for the 1 million Arab-Israeli votes does not seem to be matched with policy changes towards Arabs on the other side of the border, ones under military occupation, which is amongst the major issues that affect the tendencies of Arab votes in Israel.
This week, pro-Palestinian social media users have launched the hashtag #SaveSheikhJarrah; protesting the latest series of decisions by the Israeli Magistrate's Court, forcing evictions of reportedly 500 residents of east Jerusalem's Sheikh Jarrah historic neighborhood.
“This is where I studied, grew up, got married, had my kids, and leaving this house means uprooting me.” -Nabil Al-Kurd. His is one of 28 families being threatened with expulsion in the Sheikh Jarrah neighbored of Jerusalem. #SaveSheikhJarrah #انقذوا_حي_الشيخ_جراح https://t.co/1NXHvDbzDD— dina (@natbartimaeus) March 14, 2021
Online commentators have noted that Israeli policies "continue to empty Jerusalem and other cities in the West Bank of their Arab residents," amid extensive efforts to build more Jewish settlements, ones regarded illegal as per international law.
For the 9th week,Palestinians in Umm al-Fahem Protest against police failure to tackle gun violence.— Abier AlKhateeb (@abierkhatib) March 12, 2021
This must be surprising to some party members who claimed barefacedly that political movement is impossible outside the Knesset.
Such developments suggest that Netanyahu's efforts to appeal to the Arab-Israeli population can easily fail if not matched by concrete changes on the status quo in connection with the occupation. Moreover, thousands of Arab-Israelis protested last Friday in the Arab-majority city of Umm Al-Fahm, against what they describe as "against police failure to tackle gun violence in the Arab community."
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