A controversial bill introduced by Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party lost a vote in the Knesset (Israel’s parliament) Monday. The law would have allowed the Likud and other political parties to film polling places in the upcoming election on September 17th.
For a bill to become law in Israel, there is a usual waiting period of 45 days before a Knesset vote. The vote on Monday was a motion to shorten the usual legislation period. The right-wing Likud party hoped to pass the bill before the elections.
Benny Gantz, head of the Blue and White political party, warned the bill’s failure might lead to violence at polling places. Critics of the camera bill said it would be used to intimidate Arab voters. Gantz is afraid since the Likud cannot film the polls, they may resort to violence instead.
“This is a democratic process. It’s a non-violent process … I’m afraid that not everybody thinks like me, [including] Israel’s leader,” Gantz said Monday.
During the April elections, a company affiliated with the Likud party deployed thousands of people and cameras to Arab polling places. The Arab voter turnout was around 50 percent, a record low in recent years. The company took credit for such a low turnout.
Netanyahu has also been spreading unsubstantiated claims of Arab voter fraud, which is his justification for trying to pass the camera bill. The prime minister blamed the so-called voter fraud for not securing his right-wing bloc enough seats in the Knesset in the April election. Netanyahu failed to form a government after the last election, forcing Israelis to go back to the polls.
Israel’s Central Election Committee condemned the Likud’s filming of the polls in April and forbade political parties from doing any filming in the upcoming election. The committee also announced they would be sending observers equipped with body cameras to over 5,000 of the 10,500 polling places on September 17th.