Israeli Arabs get a second chance to oust Netanyahu. Will they use it?

Hazem Bader / AFP / Getty Images)
If 65 percent of the Arab citizens of Israel vote, Netanyahu won’t be prime minister anymore.

By David Halbfinger | The New York Times | Sep 14, 2019

Odeh’s ads practically beg Palestinian citizens to vote on Tuesday, saying that one million citizens, if they all voted, would translate into 28 seats [23%] in the Knesset.

Arab citizens of Israel have no love lost for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who routinely resorts to fear-mongering against them to rally his right-wing Jewish base. But when they had a chance to help toss him from office in April, fewer than half of eligible Arabs voted — a record low.

Now, with a do-over election on Tuesday, they have a second chance, and Israeli Arab leaders say they are doing things differently this time.

The often-overlooked Arab vote will be one of the most important subplots in this election, and could well determine Mr. Netanyahu’s fate. A robust enough turnout could deprive Mr. Netanyahu of the 61-seat majority in Parliament he needs to secure another term.

Turnout is a thorny issue for Israeli Arabs, who represent a sixth of the electorate. Some always boycott Israeli elections as a silent dissent.

But in April, many said they were fuming at Arab lawmakers for having broken into rival splinter parties, dissipating what little political strength they had. They won just 10 of the 120 seats in Parliament, down from 15.

The politicians got the message. First, they put the squabbling aside and reunited into a single Arab ticket. And now, with polls showing that voters overwhelmingly want them to do more than just carp from the sidelines or rail against Israel’s treatment of the Palestinians living under occupation, they have for the first time broached the idea of joining an Israeli government.

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