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Palestinian-Israelis mock 'hypocritical' Netanyahu video appeal

Israeli PM slammed for 'PR stunt' statement in English saying his warnings about Arabs during 2015 election were 'misunderstood'
Netanyahu addresses the Palestinian citizens of Israel (Israel PMO)

Palestinian leaders in Israel has ridiculed a video statement by Benjamin Netanyahu in which calls for Palestinian citizens of Israel to participate in society “in droves”.

In the video, the Israeli prime minister says in English that he is "proud of the fact that under my leadership, the government decided to invest huge amounts of resources in the Arab community.”

"Arab communities are now receiving unprecedented amounts of aid for public infrastructure, transportation, welfare, and employment. The reason is simple: your future is our future."

Netanyahu had previously faced accusations of racism after he warned during the 2015 parliamentary elections that “Arab voters are heading to the polling stations in droves” and therefore putting the “right-wing government is in danger”.

In the video, Netanyahu calls on Palestinian citizens of Israel (generally refer to as “Arabs” by right-wing Israelis) to “move on” from his elections comments and claimed he had been referring to the Joint List - the majority-Palestinian coalition - rather than all Palestinians in Israel.

“Despite the fact that I was speaking about a specific political party, a lot of people were understandably hurt by my statements,” he said.

“I apologised about the fact that I was misunderstood.”

Joint List chairman Ayman Odeh on Tuesday called the video a “display of hypocrisy” and said he had no doubt the real intent of Netanyahu’s words during the election.

“Is this the same prime minister who incited against us during the elections, and since has only continued to incite?” he said, according to Ynet.

“When I saw that he decided to speak to us in English I understood exactly who the real recipient of the message was.”

Some commentators have argued that Netanyahu’s decision to speak in English rather than Hebrew or Arabic (the two most common languages in Israel) indicates it was not sincerely addressed to Palestinians.

“Netanyahu is a public relations stunt - it isn't designed to address Palestinian Arabs at all,” wrote Gary Spedding, an independent consultant and lobbyist on the Israel-Palestine conflict on his Facebook page.

“It's targeted at an international audience so that Bibi can continue this masquerade of delusions and fabrications.”

Ahmed Tibi, leader of the Arab Nationalist Ta’al party, went to so far as to claim that the only Arabic he does speak in the video - “Our dear Arab citizens” at the beginning - was mispronounced so that he referred to “my goats” rather than “my friends”.

"This (absurd) outreach to the residents of the (Arab towns of) Taybe and Rahat in English raises questions regarding the true meaning of this spin,” said Tibi, according to Ynet.

“If you see the footage shake a bit, it's because the cameraman is laughing as well.”