Middle East

Netanyahu's coalition chair angers Arabs with voting remarks

The coalition chairman of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government has angered Israel's Arab minority by saying he would rather they didn't vote.

David Biton said Saturday he would "prefer" if Arabs didn't go to the polls.

He said Joint List lawmakers don't serve the interests of Arabs in Israel but rather of Palestinians.

Ayman Odeh, who heads that bloc of Arab parties, tweeted that Biton's "racism and that of the government" only strengthens them.

On election day in 2015, Netanyahu drew accusations of racism when he galvanized supporters warning "Arab voters are going in droves to the polls." He later apologized.

Arabs make up a fifth of Israel's population. They enjoy full citizenship but frequently face unfair treatment in areas like jobs and housing.