The Slatest

Netanyahu Warns Supporters That a Lot of Arabs Are Voting

A mobile ballot box in the West Bank. Israelis who live in the West Bank are eligible to vote in Israeli elections. (Palestinians vote in separate self-rule elections.)

Amir Cohen/Reuters

Facing a potential defeat in Israeli elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu warned supporters in a video Tuesday that the country’s Arabs are voting in large numbers. “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls,” said Netanyahu, per Haaretz. “Left-wing organizations are busing them out.” The paper reports that there are indeed “signs of increased voter turnout among the Arab Israeli population relative to the previous election,” though Arab political figures are as of yet “reluctant to express too much optimism.”


Per Israel’s Central Bureau of Statistics, the country is home to 5.9 million Jews and 1.4 million Arabs out of a total population of 8 million. Four small Arab parties have united in this year’s election into a faction called the Joint List, which is projected by some polls to win 13 of the 120 available seats in Israel’s parliament, the Knesset. (The Joint List says it will not join any ruling coalition, whether Netanyahu’s or that of his main opponent, center-left leader Isaac Herzog.)

Polls close at 10 p.m. local time, which is 4 p.m. ET.

*Correction, March 17, 10:15 a.m.: The headline of this post originally misstated that Netanyahu’s comments were made in an email rather than a video.