Netanyahu crony says controversial cameras targeting Palestinian-Israeli voters on election day backfired

Netanyahu crony says controversial cameras targeting Palestinian-Israeli voters on election day backfired
A Likud lawmaker admitted that targeting Palestinian-Israelis with the parties controversial camera bill backfired on election day.
3 min read
18 September, 2019
Knesset member Miki Zohar defends Prime Minister Netanyahu during debate on the camera bill [AFP/Getty]

A close ally of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has admitted that the Likud Party policy to push a controversial camera bill backfired on election day.

Likud lawmaker Miki Zohar told Walla: "It woke up the Arab sector that in turn came out to the polls, while it also went on to lull right-wing voters into complacency and many of them remained at home." 

"Without a doubt, the cameras campaign came back at us like a boomerang," Zohar added. According to Haaretz, he said the Arab Joint List coalition took advantage of their mistake.

The controversial bill sought to allow parties to film outside polling stations on the basis of preventing voter fraud, specifically in Arab towns. 

Leaders of the Joint List of Arab Parties celebrated their successful campaign in the Israeli general election on Tuesday evening, which they see as a victory over Prime Minister Netanyahu's right-wing agenda.

Netanyahu will be less exuberant about the election outcome. He and his main challenger Benny Gantz were deadlocked Wednesday, raising the possibility of a unity government or even the end of the premier's long rule.

Various Israeli media reported that Netanyahu's right-wing Likud and the his rival Gantz's Blue and White were matched with 32 seats each of parliament's 120 with more than 90 percent of the vote counted.

The mainly Arab Joint List alliance is set to become the third-largest force in parliament with a projected 12 seats, the reports said.

"I want to thank our public, this was a great achievement for us," said chairman of the Joint List Ayman Odeh.  

Odeh and Netanyahu had a confrontation in the Knesset, Israel’s parliament, last week over the proposed camera bill.

Odeh called Netanyahu a liar and held his phone camera up to his forehead after the premier gave a speech in support of the bill. 

After he was ejected from the auditorium, Odeh tweeted: "Suddenly he has a problem with cameras."

The bill failed to pass with a majority of 61 lawmakers - a special majority set by a Knesset legal advisor.

Read also: Netanyahu supporters warn of Palestinian voters using photo from Turkish elections

Israel's elections committee also ruled last month against the Likud plan to have cameras at polling stations in Arab communities during parliamentary elections.

During April's vote, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud Party deployed activists with cameras at polls in Palestinian communities. The party said it was combating voter fraud, but critics said the point was to intimidate and deter minority voters.

Israel faced an unprecedented repeat election on Tuesday after Netanyahu's party failed to form a coalition after securing a majority with right wing allies in April's election.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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