BEIRUT

Middle East

Arab League urges Arab Israelis to vote 'in droves'

Campaign banners depicting Israel's Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu are seen after Likud-Yisrael Beitenu activists draped them on walls surrounding Jerusalem's Old City January 20, 2013. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun

CAIRO: The Arab League urged Arab Israelis to stage a massive turnout in the Jewish state's legislative elections on Tuesday, in a statement published in Cairo.

"The League calls on Arab citizens of Israel to turn out in droves for the elections so they are represented (in parliament) and can oppose racist laws" that could be voted on in the Knesset, it said.

The Cairo-based pan-Arab body also expressed its concern over the likelihood of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's rightwing coalition retaining a strong majority.

It said there were "initial indications" that most seats would go to the far right, who "do not want peace" with the Palestinians, pointing toward Netanyahu's opposition to evacuating Jewish settlements in Palestinian territories.

Arab Israelis -- Palestinians who stayed on after the creation of Israel in 1948, and their descendants -- make up around one-fifth of Israel's population.

They "must be represented in that proportion" in the Knesset, the Arab League said.

Arab MPs should "oppose all (laws passing through parliament) that go against international law or against justice and democracy," it added.

 

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