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October 8, 2022 8:42 am

Lapid courts Arab voters with ‘anyone but Netanyahu’ message

avatar by i24 News

Israel’s interim Prime Minister Yair Lapid chairs the first cabinet meeting, days after lawmakers dissolved parliament, in Jerusalem July 3, 2022. Gil Cohen-Magen/Pool via REUTERS

i24 NewsWith the latest polls indicating that Arab Israeli turnout in the upcoming November 1 poll will be at a record low, Prime Minister Yair Lapid seeks to boost his popularity with potential Arab voters.

Hebrew-language media reported that members of Lapid’s Yesh Atid party held meetings with Arab community leaders in recent weeks, focusing on the predominantly Arab cities in northern Israel.

Their message to Arab voters is that in the likely event they don’t want to support the centrist Yesh Atid directly, they could still contribute to Lapid’s “everyone but Benjamin Netanyahu” agenda by voting either for the Arab parties or those factions that are part of Lapid’s bloc, such as the center-left Labor and the dovish Meretz.

Netanyahu, Lapid’s election rival and Israel’s former prime minister, is also mounting a charm offensive in the Arab sector, notwithstanding a series of controversial statements that did little to endear him to the community, including the infamous election-day warning that “the Arabs are coming out in droves” to the ballots in 2015.

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Another unlikely suitor is the ultra-religious Shas party, which promises aid to the impoverished.

Meanwhile Yesh Atid is trying to appeal to potential Arab voters by citing the policies enacted by the government in favor of the Arab sector in the past year and a half.

Should you abstain, the message goes, Netanyahu will form a government with such anti-Arab extremists as Itamar Ben-Gvir.

The coalition headed by Lapid and Naftali Bennett comprised the Islamic Ra’am party, the first Israeli government to include an Arab faction.

Less than 40 percent of Israeli Arabs intend to vote in the November 1 election, according to the polls.

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