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Palestinian lawmaker sticks phone in Netanyahu’s face over controversial bill allowing camera at polling stations

Knesset member Ayman Odeh uses a phone to take a close-up picture of Netanyahu [AFP/Getty]

Date of publication: 12 September, 2019

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A rare clash erupted between Netanyahu and Joint List Chairman Odeh at the Knesset ahead of a vote on a controversial bill to allow cameras in polling booths.
A Palestinian member of Israel's parliament stuck his camera phone in Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's face on Wednesday to protest a proposed bill allowing parties to film at polling stations.

Joint List Chairman Ayman Odeh, 44, called Netanyahu a liar and held his phone camera up to his forehead after the premier gave a speech in support of the bill.

The bill failed to pass with a majority of 61 lawmakers - a special majority set by a Knesset legal advisor. Fifty-eight lawmakers voted in favour while opposition parties, headed by Avigdor Lieberman, boycotted the vote, Haaretz reported.

After the bill failed, Netanyahu's Likud party released a statement saying: "The cameras bill failed to pass because of one person - Avigdor Lieberman - who banded with Lapid, Gantz and the Arab parties in order to enable voter fraud and steal the vote."

In pre-motion debate, Netanyahu called on Lieberman's party to attend the vote on the bill.

As Netanyahu stepped down from the podium, Odeh called out: "You are a liar and you know it."

The leader of the Arab Hadash party then held a phone up to Netanyahu's forehead. After he was ejected from the auditorium, Odeh tweeted: "Suddenly he has a problem with cameras."

The proposed draft bill would have allowed party representatives to record the activity at polling stations during the 17 September elections.

The bill was rejected on Monday by the Knesset Arrangement's activity but Netanyhu decided to bring the bill before the Knesset regardless.

Israel's elections committee ruled last month against the Likud plan to have cameras at polling stations in Arab communities during parliamentary elections.

During April's vote, Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party deployed activists with cameras at polls in Palestinian communities. The party said it was combating voter fraud, but critics said the point was to intimidate and deter minority voters.

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Election committee chairman Hanan Melcer said in a statement that inspectors at polling stations would ensure adherence to the filming ban and would do all it could to stop "those who seek to sway the results in their favor outside the democratic rules".

Israel faces an unprecedented repeat election after Netanyahu's party failed to form a coalition after securing a majority with right wing allies in April's election.

Agencies contributed to this report.

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