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Bibi vs. Tibi: Netanyahu targets Arab lawmaker

Video Credit: Reuters Studio - Duration: 02:26s - Published
Bibi vs. Tibi: Netanyahu targets Arab lawmaker

Bibi vs. Tibi: Netanyahu targets Arab lawmaker

Playing on right-wing sentiment, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is presenting the election next week as a choice between himself, "Bibi" or Ahmad Tibi, an Israeli Arab lawmaker who could form an alliance with his rival.

Lucy Fielder reports.


You've got a choice of Bibi or Tibi.

Benjamin Netanyahu is targeting Arab lawmaker Ahmad Tibi in Israel's election campaign.

The Israeli prime minister, nickname Bibi, is putting the fear into his right-wing supporters that Tibi is who'll be in charge if his main rival Benny Gantz gets in.

He also wants to nab votes from the far right, suspicious - to say the least - of Israel's 21 percent Arab minority.

Next Monday's poll, the third in a year, is likely to be close and could lead to stalemate.

If former general Gantz gets the edge, he may look to Tibi to form a government.

Tibi, head of the joint list Arab coalition, is scathing about being Netanyahu's bogeyman.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI ARAB LEADER AND LAWMAKER, AHMAD TIBI, SAYING: "It can be diagnosed as Tibi-phobia, for example." Netanyahu's Likud party has released this poster with a caricatured Gantz riding on Tibi's back.

Gantz has denied a government led by him would rely on Arab support.

(SOUNDBITE) (English) ISRAELI ARAB LEADER AND LAWMAKER AHMAD TIBI, SAYING: "He is focusing (on) Ahmad Tibi, Ahmad the Arab, trying to incite his right (wing) base, Jewish base, saying look, the Arabs are controlling the government, Ahmad will decide who will be the prime minister, not you, go and vote." Israel's Arab minority descends from Palestinians who remained within its borders after Israel was formed in 1948.

They've long accused Netanyahu of fear-mongering and discrimination -- in 2015 Netanyahu warned voters Arabs were flocking to the polls 'in droves'.

And last April, his Likud party sent monitors equipped with body cameras to polling stations in Arab towns, prompting accusations of voter intimidation.

Arab leaders also say their towns are overlooked in terms of spending on health, education and housing.

And they're angered by Netanyahu's treatment of the Palestinians.

Eyeing the far right, he has promised to build more settlements in the occupied West Bank and annex existing ones, further thwarting their desire for a state.

For his part, Tibi says Netanyahu's attacks will only galvanise his own supporters to turn out on election day.

Related news from verified sources

Bibi vs. Tibi: Israel's Netanyahu fires up base by targeting Arab lawmaker

"Bibi or Tibi" is the election slogan hammered home at nearly every opportunity on the campaign trail...
Reuters - Published

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