As voters headed to the polls for an election that could end the reign of Benjamin Netanyahu's rightist Likud party, the Israeli prime minister warned supporters that the country's Arab citizens were voting "in droves," imploring right-wing Israelis to help "close the gap."
Speaking in Hebrew in a video posted to his Facebook page, Netanyahu said, "The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are coming out in droves to the polls. Left-wing organizations are bussing them out."
"We have no V15, we have Order 8 [code for emergency call up to IDF reserve duty], we have only you. Get out to vote, bring your friends and family, vote Likud in order to close the gap between us and 'Labor,'" he continued, in remarks translated by Haaretz.
Netanyahu's comments come amid reports of increased voter turnout among the Israeli Arab population. Previous elections have witnessed declining voter participation by Israeli Arabs, who account for about 1.7 million of Israel's estimated 8 million people. Confronted with a new law that requires parties to win at least 3.25 percent of the national vote to claim a seat in Parliament, a diverse array of Arab parties -- ranging from the secular left to conservative Islamists -- combined to form the Joint List alliance this year. The New York Times noted on Monday that the alliance is on track to win 13 of the Parliament's 120 seats.
Watch Netanyahu's video below: