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This Is the 'Biggest Drama' Facing Israel Elections

Arab turnout is extremely low: reports
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Apr 9, 2019 12:29 PM CDT
Israeli Bedouin votes during general elections in the city of Rahat, Tuesday, April 9, 2019.   (AP Photo/Tsafrir Abayov)
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(Newser) – A prominent Israeli pollster says that Israel has never seen such a decline in Arab turnout, calling it "the biggest drama" facing the national election. Camil Fuchs told Israel's Chanel 13 TV that exit polls revealed startling low turnout throughout the day, the AP reports. Prominent Arab politicians took to social media to demand their constituents push back against ballot boycott calls that put their parties at risk of dropping below the parliamentary threshold. Veteran lawmaker Ahmad Tibi called the low turnout "a real danger" to his party and the other Arab factions. Arab citizens, representing nearly 20% of Israel's population, could help sway the vote. But many Arab citizens have pledged to boycott the election in protest of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's divisive campaign tactics and legislation declaring Israel the nation-state of the Jewish people.

Per the Jerusalem Post, just 20% of Arab voters had turned in ballots by 3pm. The Post explains that some Arab voters feel that since the Arab political parties won't be invited to join a coalition government, there's no point in voting. Tuesday's election is largely seen as a referendum on Netanyahu, who appealed to nationalist voters by vowing to annex the Israeli-occupied West Bank. The PM, who is seeking a fifth term in office, delivered increasingly impassioned pleas to voters to come out and support him as the day wore on. He took to Facebook in a steady stream of videos to rile his national base by warning if supporters failed to vote, they'd wake up to a "leftist" government led by his chief challenger Benny Gantz. He says such a scenario is backed by a "secret deal" with Arab parties. Official results are expected to come in overnight.

(Read more Israel stories.)

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