Netanyahu to court Palestinian vote in latest re-election bid: reports

Netanyahu to court Palestinian vote in latest re-election bid: reports
Israel's prime minister hopes to win two seats and snatch support from the Palestinian-majority Joint List.
3 min read
02 January, 2021
Netahyanu plans to visit several Arab cities ahead of Israel's election [Getty]
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has set his sights on swinging Palestinian votes as Israel heads towards its fourth election in two years, according to local media reports.

On Friday, the Israeli premier was shown in a television report visiting the Palestinian city of Umm al-Fahm in northern Israel as part of a coronavirus vaccination drive.

During the visit, Netanyahu told Israel's Channel 13 News that the Arab vote has "big potential".

"For many, many years the Arab public was outside the mainstream of leadership. Why?" Netanyahu said. "There's no reason. People contribute, people work. Let's go all the way. Be part of the full success story of Israel. That's what I would like to be exemplified in the election."

Netanyahu also claimed that recent normalisation agreements between Israel and Arab states would encourage Arabs to support his re-election bid.

"We haven't forgotten his statements and policies," he said. "We still think he views us, Arab Israeli citizens, as enemies."

Another resident who spoke to the Israeli news outlet slammed the incumbent premier's record.

"What has he done for us for 20 years? There’s no funding, crime is raging and racism is at an all-time high," said Umm al-Fahm resident Yousef Aghbaria.

The prime minister's attempted rapproachment with Palestinian consituents draws a stark contrast with previous campaigns, when the Likud party repeatedly demonised Palestinian-Israelis.

During Israel's 2015 election, Netanyahu drew international criticism for warning Israelis that "Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves".

Netanyahu's latest election campaign comes as he also prepares for the start of a more intensified phase of his long-awaited corruption trial and the departure of his staunch ally US President Donald Trump from the White House.

Political analysts have said that Netanyahu is hoping a rapid vaccination drive will put Israel's pandemic-wracked economy on a path to recovery before election day. 

Agencies contributed to this report.

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