UK Jewish groups congratulate Netanyahu but lament election's 'deeply alarming rhetoric'

The Board of Deputies called Bibi's win a 'significant achievement' but expressed concern over how the election campaign was fought


British Jewish leaders have congratulated Benjamin Netanyahu, who is set for a record fifth term as Israel’s Prime Minister as election results suggest he will be able to form a right-wing coalition.

The Board of Deputies said Mr Netanyahu’s win was a “significant achievement” but expressed concern over a “deeply alarming rhetoric” used throughout the election campaign.

Board President Marie van der Zyl said it was a “polarising campaign” and called on “politicians from all sides” to work to build trust with all sections of Israeli society.

Mrs van der Zyl’s comments on the election result came as reporters revealed that Netanyahu’s Likud party had fitted 1,300 secret cameras in polling stations used by Arabs in an attempt to suppressed votes in Arab communities.

An Israeli public relations company headed by a settler leader said that it was behind the Likud initiative to place 1,200 hidden cameras in Arab polling stations on Election Day.

The firm said that it was responsible for the historically low turnout among Arab voters.

During the campaign, the Board distanced itself from Mr Netanyahu’s claim that Israel is "not a country of all its citizens", after 50 deputies signed an open letter rebuking it for not condemning his alliance with an ultra-nationalist party.

Around 50 deputies wrote to the Board condemning the electoral pact between Mr Netanyahu’s Likud and the “racist… extremist” Otzma Yehudit - or “Jewish Power” - a far-right Kahanist political party.

Commenting on the result, Ms van der Zyl said: “Politicians from all sides need to work hard to build trust with every section of Israeli society and not take actions and decisions which deepen divides.

"We hope that the new Government will be successful in pursuing the peace, security, prosperity and equality that all Israeli citizens need and deserve.”

The Zionist Federation wished “mazel tov to the winner” on Twitter.

It said: “It is clear that Netanyahu will lead the next government, mazel tov to the winner. This is how democracy plays out. [Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud] Abbas should take note.”

Not everyone was as celebratory. Left-wing UK Jewish group Na’amod said it was “painful” to see communal representatives “congratulating Netanyahu when they stayed silent as he ushered far-right extremists into the Knesset.

“We deserve leaders of courage and principle to condemn bigotry and oppression wherever it occurs.”

Yachad Director, Hannah Weisfeld said whilst Mr Netanyahu is set to form a government, "a significant number of people in Israel voted for change and this is a reason to remain hopeful.

"With Netanyahu looking set to build the next coalition and bring into it some of the most extreme voices, supporters of Israel like us must continue to speak out loudly for a vision of Israel grounded in the values enshrined in Israel’s Declaration of Independence. We must make it clear that we will not tolerate racism and incitement of any kind."


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