(Israel Hayom/Exclusive to JNS.org) Some news outlets found themselves prematurely hinting at the defeat of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Tuesday’s Israeli election, before Wednesday’s official vote tallies revealed a decisive victory for Netanyahu’s Likud party.
The French newspaper Liberation featured a picture of Netanyahu captioned “Bye Bye Bibi?” and The New York Times reported that Netanyahu was “fighting to stay in power.” Yet television exit polls on Tuesday night showed Likud with either an advantage of one Knesset seat over the Zionist Union or in a tie with that party, and Wednesday’s official results produced a six-seat advantage for Likud. Other media outlets chose to focus on the prime minister’s remarks right before the election. The British newspaper The Guardian described Netanyahu’s call for citizens to vote in light of the reported high Arab voter turnout as “incitement.”
Meanwhile, Arab media outlets referred to Israeli Arab voters as “Palestinians.” Al-Jazeera reported that the Arab public was showing up to polling stations in large numbers and took credit for prompting Netanyahu and the Likud to call a special meeting to warn against a possible upheaval. The Saudi news outlet Al-Arabiya reported that despite the high Arab turnout numbers that were reported in the morning, by the afternoon the Arab turnout had stabilized to its statistical norm, and that it would likely not be higher than 55 percent of eligible Arab voters.
Al-Arabiya’s Arabic-language website featured a report that quoted senior officials in Saudi Arabia and Kuwait as saying they preferred a Netanyahu government over one led by the Zionist Union’s Isaac Herzog and Tzipi Livni, since those Arab states assume Netanyahu will be more determined to stop Iran’s nuclear program.