Prime Minister Yair Lapid visited Nazareth on Tuesday and met with mayor Ali Salam and approximately 20 other Israeli Arab mayors and regional council heads, in a bid to raise the voter percentage in the Arab sector.
"When a 13-year-old boy is murdered, it is a terrible failure of the entire Israeli society," the prime minister said after the meeting, which also included Social Equality and Pensioners Minister Meirav Cohen and Deputy Public Security Minister Yoav Segalovitz. "We are all responsible for his fate. In the last year there has been a decrease in murders thanks to the steps we have taken - I do not claim for a moment that this is enough. But we started something," he said.
"A week before elections is also a time when you mark priorities. To come here now is to say - this is very high on the priority list of the government, the country, and mine personally.
"Arab society's responsibility for its destiny is ultimately expressed by being part of democracy. If your citizens did not go out to vote, they should understand that what was given last year will also be taken from them. You are voting for your life, you are voting for partnership," Lapid added.
"A week before elections is also a time when you mark priorities. To come here now is to say - this is very high on the priority list of the government, the country, and mine personally."Prime Minister Yair Lapid
How many from Arab sector will vote?
The visit came as polls showed in recent weeks that the Arab vote is expected to be less than 50% of those eligible. This, combined with the fact that there are three different Arab parties in the running – Hadash-Ta'al, Ra'am and Balad – could lead to one of them falling below the electoral threshold. This would waste votes for the anti-Netanyahu bloc and could push the Likud leader over the 61-seat mark.
The government launched a police operation called "SafeTrack" a year ago, in October 2021, in order to fight crime in the Arab sector. While homicides decreased significantly in the first months of 2022, a slew of murders in June led the number up closer to last year's numbers.
The fact that Ra'am's participation in the coalition did not change the situation on the ground is a central factor in many Israeli Arabs' choice not to vote, polls showed.