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Israel: Arab voter turnout high despite Facebook harassment against Joint List head

Voter turnout from the Arab citizens of Israel was at its highest since the 1999 election, standing at 67 per cent, according to official results

Voter turnout from the Arab citizens of Israel was at its highest since the 1999 election, standing at 67 per cent, according to official results.

The Joint List appeared to have won at least 15 seats, a record for Arab representation in the Israeli Knesset. It’s previous high was 13.

Many Arab voters were motivated to vote enraged by US President Donald Trump’s so-called “peace plan” – widely referred to as the “deal of the century” – because it would legitimise Israeli settlements in the occupied West Bank, give Israel complete control of Jerusalem, which the Palestinians want as their capital, and severely restrict the sovereignty of a proposed Palestinian state.

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.

READ: Anti-Palestinian social media incitement in Israel continues to rise

The pages they identified “spread direct content that encouraged boycotting the election, or contributed to it indirectly through the use of planting despair or encouraging social polarisation,” said the Democratic Bloc.

One major centre of the activities targeted the head of the Joint List alliance’s Facebook page, MK Ayman Odeh, where almost half of the fake accounts often posted responses.

“Stop humiliating yourself,” commented one of the profiles on Odeh’s page. “When someone says they don’t want you and don’t want your support, how do you expect to replace [Israeli Prime Minister] Netanyahu. [Head of Blue and White alliance] Gantz also doesn’t want you or your party and agrees to the deal of the century.”

Following the results, Odeh thanked his supporters after early results showed an increased number of seats for his bloc.

“This is the biggest parliamentary achievement since the first Knesset in 1949,” Odeh said, in reference to a record number of Arab lawmakers in the parliament, according to Haaretz.

The Arab leader has called for the alliance, which leans towards left-wing politics, to offer a “principle alternative” to the traditional parties in Israel.

READ: Jewish-Israeli left vote swinging to Arab parties

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