'Arabs, Wake up and Vote for Me!' Is Netanyahu Desperate for the Arab-Israeli Votes He Once Shunned?

Published February 27th, 2020 - 10:09 GMT
'Arabs, Wake up and Vote for Me!' Is Netanyahu Desperate for the Arab-Israeli Votes He Once Shunned?
In the video, Avi Dichter attacked the Arab Joint List and called on Arab voters to vote for the Likud instead. (Shutterstock)

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. 

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.

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.

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. 

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.

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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