Israeli PM Netanyahu plan to put cameras at polling stations failed

UNITED STATES, WASHINGTON (OBSERVATORY) — Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu failed on Monday in a bid to put cameras at the country’s polling stations, but he used the legislative defeat to bolster accusations his opponents are determined to steal next week’s elections.

Similar to what President Donald Trump did during his successful 2016 presidential campaign, Netanyahu, the right-wing Likud leader, has made possible vote-rigging a key issue in his campaign as the race rages.

Netanyahu appealed to his supporters to vote to ensure he won a fifth term amid largely uncertain allegations by Likud officials of widespread fraud at Arab polling stations during inconclusive elections in April.

A day after Netanyahu’s cabinet approved the draft law on surveillance cameras, the proposed bill was rejected in a Knesset committee on Monday.

Most Western countries impose restrictions on the use of cameras at polling stations and political commentators expected the move to face some obstacles.

Israel’s attorney general has opposed the draft law for privacy and procedural considerations and will hear an appeal from Netanyahu two weeks after the July 17 election in response to his intention to indict the prime minister in three corruption cases.

But the proposal, which critics say aims to intimidate Arab voters, has pushed Netanyahu’s fraud charges to the forefront of a battle for political survival that has been overshadowed by daily leaks to investigate police with witnesses against him.

– Right and left opponents –

The proposal also gave Netanyahu, who denies any criminal offense, a new opportunity to describe his bitterest rivals from the right and center as leftists who offer no real alternative to any supporter who might back off.

Netanyahu, who took power in Israel a decade ago, said those politicians were in agreement with Arab factions worried about the draft law. Arabs make up 21 percent of Israel’s population and vote for left-wing Arab and Jewish parties.

Former Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman of the Yisrael Beiteinu party and Benny Gantz, leader of the center-white Blue Party, have declared their opposition to video polling. Opinion polls show intensifying competition between Likud and a blue-white party and high support for Lieberman.

“There is no reason for those who really want an impeccable election to oppose the camera law, which prevents election fraud,” Netanyahu said in a video statement after the committee vote.

“Particularly frustrating is Lieberman’s joining the left and the Arab parties. So I have only one answer for all those who want (to avoid) fraudulent and stolen elections, accept large numbers and vote for Likud.”

Gantz accused Netanyahu of “trading in conspiracies” and said in public statements that “rationality won”. Lieberman said only Election Observers should be responsible for any cameras at polling stations, not Netanyahu’s own militia.

During the voting process, representatives of most parties come to observe the identification process before the vote, and then voters receive the papers and give their opinion privately.

Ayman Odeh, head of the United Arab List party, welcomed the “loss of Likud (as a victory for Arab citizens)” but said the defeat in parliament could be in favor of portraying Netanyahu himself as a potential victim of rigged elections.

“He can say that the Arabs, the media and the whole world are against him,” Odeh told reporters.


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