Israeli PM Netanyahu courts Arab voters ahead of tight election

·1-min read

As Israelis prepare to vote on Tuesday for the fourth time in two years, polls predict that once again, the result will be close. This time it is because competition on the right is fierce – so fierce that right wing Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu is changing tack and courting Israel’s Arab voters.

Despite Netanyahu’s harsh words in previous elections against the Arab population, which represents 20 percent of the country’s population, this time his Likud party is trying to attract Arab voters – and some appear to be receptive.

“What I tell people is to stop complaining from afar, to stop saying ‘They don’t give us anything, we have nothing.’ I tell people to come, to influence things by getting closer to the decision-making centre, where decisions that concern everyone are made,” Majdi Qasem, an Arab Likud party activist in the city of Lod, told FRANCE 24. “The percentage of Arabs in government is zero. Joining a large party serves the interests of our society,” he said.

The Likud sees this new approach as a result of Israel‘s recent normalisation of ties with several Arab states.

“I now see a greater attraction from this community appearing since the Abraham Accords, the peace accords with the Arab countries. We can see that it has a real influence. It’s not only something that influences countries abroad, it also changes things inside Israel,” said Omri Saar, a Likud youth manager.

Click on the video player above for the full report.