Netanyahu’s Likud Party accused of ‘suppression tactics’ against Arab voters

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Netanyahu’s Likud Party accused of ‘suppression tactics’ against Arab voters

A month before the second General Election of 2019, Israel’s Central Election Committee heard testimony alleging 'vigilante disenfranchisement tactics'

Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote during Israel's parliamentary election in Jerusalem April 9, 2019. Photo by: Emil Salman-JINIPIX
Israel’s Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu casts his vote during Israel's parliamentary election in Jerusalem April 9, 2019. Photo by: Emil Salman-JINIPIX

Non-governmental organisations working in Israel have accused Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party of “suppression tactics” against Arab Israelis.

The claim was made with little more than a month to go before Israelis again go to the polls, Netanyahu having failed to form a governing coalition since the country’s last election in April.

Israel’s Central Election Committee this week heard testimony alleging “vigilante voter suppression and disenfranchisement tactics” by the Likud. Justice Hanan Melcer, the Committee chair, is expected to issue a judgement next week.

In April, it was revealed that Likud operatives had placed a total of 1,200 hidden cameras and recording devices in polling stations, and this week Israeli media reported that the party had doubled its budget for similar efforts next month.

NGOs and community organising groups such as Adalah, Zazim told the Committee that these were “tools of voter suppression and racial profiling” while the Association for Civil Rights in Israel said recording or photographing in polling stations violates a core principle of democracy (the right to vote) and that cameras should be banned.

Standing Together, a grassroots organising group, protested outside of Knesset with signs reading: “They put up cameras because they’re afraid Arabs will vote.” Likud said they were put there to stop voter fraud.

Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit has been repeatedly urged to open a criminal investigation into Likud’s hidden camera operation. While he is yet to do so, he told the Committee that placing hidden cameras in polling stations could constitute a criminal offence if it served as an impediment to the voting process.

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