Israelis rally to demand PM Netanyahu step down
Hundreds of Israelis have held rallies again in Tel Aviv, protesting corruption and demanding that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu resign.
The demonstrations took place in the central part of the city on Saturday, with protesters holding up placards and chanting anti-regime slogans.
They have been rallying on a weekly basis for months, sometimes in front of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s house in the city of Petah Tikva.
Mandelblit is to decide whether to indict the premier for fraud, breach of trust, and bribery in two corruption cases.
The police recommended his indictment last month in the legal proceedings which are known as Case 1000 and 2000.
In Case 1000, Netanyahu is suspected of having received gifts from businessmen overseas. In Case 2000, he is accused of helping Yediot Aharonot newspaper against its competitor Yisrael Hayom, in return for favorable coverage for the prime minister.
“I believe we will manage to change things because many people are out on the street,” one of the protesters, Shalit Chuli, said.
“The prosecution witnesses are the people that were very close to Bibi (Netanyahu) and are criminals themselves, otherwise they would not be taken as prosecution witnesses,” he said.
The indictment recommendation has prompted calls among Israeli opposition leaders for Netanyahu to leave office. The head of Labor Party Avi Gabbay and Yair Lapid who chairs the opposition Yesh Atid party have urged the premier’s coalition partners to leave his ranks.
The groundswell of support for Netanyahu’s resignation has raised the specter of early elections.
As the election stands most likely to reinstate him, some critics accuse Netanyahu of intentionally letting the political crisis come to a head to trigger the vote so that he can stay in power even if indicted.
Netanyahu’s office said on Saturday that he held crunch talks with his coalition partners amid the crisis. Ha’aretz said the premier was expected to tell his fellow politicians to “stick with” him even in case of indictment.