Arab Voter Turnout High Despite Facebook Harassment of Joint List

Voter turnout from the Arab citizens of Israel was at its highest since the 1999 election, standing at 67%, according to official results. With 99% of the votes counted from Monday’s elections, the far right-religious wing bloc has won 58 seats in total in the next Knesset, the Central Elections Committee reported Wednesday, March 3. The bloc is three seats short of gaining a majority in the 120-seat Knesset needed to form a coalition government.

Far right Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s ruling Likud party won 36 seats in the 23rd Knesset, Blue & White 33, the Joint List 15; a record for the alliance between Hadash, Balad, Ta’al and Ra’am, the predominantly Arab representation in the Israeli Knesset. Its previous high was 13. The results of the elections showed that nearly 570,000 Arabs and Jews voted for the Joint List.

The high turnout among Arab voters in the country’s third election in under a year came despite the 30 fake accounts on Facebook designed to reduce Arab voter turnout in the election, which were revealed following an investigation conducted by the Democratic Bloc non-profit organisation.

One major focus of the social media sabotage activities targeted the head of the Facebook page of MK Ayman Odeh (Hadash), the head of the Joint List alliance, where almost half of the fake accounts often posted responses. Odeh has 243,000 followers on Facebook.

The Joint List chairman declared on Tuesday that the alliance had realized a “huge achievement” in Monday’s national election. Odeh said that the Joint List received votes from many Jews and contended that it needed to become “the principled alternative for the entire Israeli political map.” “I call on left-wingers not to despair or soul-search, but rather to think about partnership and a principled alternative,” he said, adding that he was talking about “real peace and democracy, actual equality between Arabs and Jews and social justice for all marginalized persons.”