The racist bill promoted by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party to place cameras in polling stations was defeated in committee yesterday, Monday, September 9. The controversial bill failed to gain a majority in the Knesset Regulatory committee, leaving the Likud-proposed legislation without an immediate path to become law before the September 17 election. The committee voted down a motion to shorten the usual legislative process so that the bill would not have to wait the standard 45 days before being brought before the Knesset plenum for debate and three votes.
“What Netanyahu is trying to pass is not a bill to monitor voting; it’s an election-stealing bill,” said MK Aida Touma-Sliman (Hadash) during the stormy debate in committee. The Communist MK said Hadash supported placing cameras from the Central Elections Committee at polling stations to prevent voter fraud, but would only support such measures if they were introduced by the Knesset, not by a far-right party. “This kind of oversight should not be managed by Netanyahu’s personal militia, who from the outset are not there to monitor voting, but to interfere in the election process and alter the results,” she maintained.
“The camera bill has fallen and Netanyahu is launching a final battle against the Arab community, the legal system and the entire democratic space,” said Hadash MK Ayman Odeh, leader of the Joint List. “Bibi’s show playing the victim is coming to an end.”
In a strategy reminiscent of President Donald Trump’s 2016 campaign, far-right Netanyahu is preemptively claiming to be a victim of electoral fraud as the country prepares to head to elections. In a Facebook video Sunday, September 8, Netanyahu accused his opponents of conspiring to “steal the election.” He also pushed through his cabinet a proposal to install cameras in voting stations to prevent what supporters claim is fraud in Arab districts. The proposal drew renewed accusations that Netanyahu was promoting racism and incitement against the country’s Arab-Palestinian national minority.
According MK Touma-Sliman, “In 2015 Netanyahu said the Arab voters were ‘flocking in droves’ to the polling stations. Now he’s claiming the Arabs are stealing the elections. He learned these tactics from the white supremacist American right that has been suppressing African-American voters for decades.”
The cabinet on Sunday unanimously approved the proposed racist legislation pushed by Netanyahu to have voting booths monitored by camera in next week’s elections. In a rare move, the cabinet meeting was attended by Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who opposed the bill. The head of the Joint List, MK Odeh said on Twitter that Netanyahu’s focus on the issue of voter fraud was aimed at “triggering a panic vote” by his supporters on the right and “suppressing the Arab vote.” “Netanyahu is preparing the ground for the day he declares, ‘Arabs have stolen the elections,’ and contests the results if he loses,” Odeh said.
The legislation was also opposed by the Central Elections Committee in addition to Mandelblit, who warned in a legal opinion Friday that it could play havoc with the voting process. The move, Mandelblit said, was “aberrant and flawed” and would undermine the entire election.