On his personal Twitter account, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu posted a video featuring the Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee Avi Dichter calling on Arab citizens of Israel to stop voting for the Arab Joint List and to vote for the Likud party instead.
Dichter's message entitled "wake up" was in Arabic but was subtitled in both Arabic and Hebrew.
إصحوا يا عرب إسرائيل!!!— Benjamin Netanyahu (@netanyahu) February 26, 2020
ערביי ישראל, התעוררו!@AviDichter pic.twitter.com/NWKQb0jWio
Translation: "Wake up Arab-Israelis"
In the video, the former Minister of Internal Security attacked the Arab Joint List and argued that even its most prominent figures "haven't done anything for the Arab-Israeli population."
Dichter addressed Arab voters in his message asking: "What have they done to help you?" He also added that Netanyahu's past governments have dedicated 15 billion Israeli Shekels to help the Arab community.
Dichter's message included figures from the Central Bureau of Statistics suggesting that "81% of Arab-Israelis are happy with their lives in the country," crediting these positive figures to the Likud government headed by Netanyahu.
This message and previous statements made by pro-Netanyahu politicians prompted many social media reactions, with many users expressing their surprise at Netanyahu's tactics to attract Arab votes in an attempt to secure the majority he failed to achieve during the last two elections.
Bibi has no shame. After Arab fear-mongering in the last two elections he now tries to woo them by disavowing the idea of Arab population transfer in the Trump Plan which he either planted there or acquiesced in. Fortunately, Arab voters will not be fooled https://t.co/2x8zcWpq4B— Martin Indyk (@Martin_Indyk) February 19, 2020
Over the past several weeks, Netanyahu tried to appeal to Arab voters by reassuring them that he has no plans to "uproot" them, in light of the details revealed recently in the US peace plan, which proposed land and population swaps targeting 2 million Arab-Israeli citizens.
Prime Minister Benjamin @Netanyahu will hold a campaign event in the Arab-Israeli city of Tamra in northern #Israel on Wednesday in a bid for the #Arab vote.https://t.co/OdytEQdFE4— The Jerusalem Post (@Jerusalem_Post) February 26, 2020
Amid furious competition, both Netanyahu and his political rival Benny Gantz have been trying to break a vote tie by appealing to other parliament blocs, hoping to form new coalitions with either the right-wing parties led by Avigdor Liberman or the Arab Joint List led by Ayman Odeh, which was surprisingly able to score about 15 seats in September's elections.
Online commentators highlighted the irony in Netanyahu's bid for Arab votes, as they remembered old remarks he made prior to the 2015 elections encouraging more Israeli Jews to vote by warning them of "a big Arab turnout." Netanyahu apologized for these remarks later on.
I wish I had time to produce a full list at the moment, but here's one:— Ron Skolnik (@Ron_Skolnik) February 26, 2020
Nov 2019: "A govt supported by the Arabs is the dream of Hamas, Hezbollah, Iran". It's a constant refrain, and built on the seminal 2015: "the Arab voters are going in droves to the polling places".
On social media, people also pointed out that Netanyahu can't expect Arabs to vote for him, especially after his government has proposed the controversial nation-state law which specifies the nature of the State of Israel as the nation-state of the Jewish people. This law was perceived by many as a right-wing attempt to exclude the Arab population in the country.
הארכי גזענים, שחוקקו את חוק הלאום האפרטהיידיסטי והפכו את הערבים בישראל לאזרחים דרגה ב' מבחינה חוקתית, מתחנפים עכשיו לאותם אזרחים ממש. חוצפה, התנשאות וטימטום. לא יעזור לכם, רמאים. ב- 2.3 מצביעים לרשימה המשותפת.— Ofer Cassif עופר כסיף (@ofercass) February 26, 2020
Translation: "So now the racist who's enacted the Apartheid-like nation-state law that made the Arabs of Israel second-class citizens according to the constitution is pleading for their support? This is such outrageous arrogance and stupidity. It won't help you."
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