- The demonstrators criticized Netanyahu's corruption and handing of the coronavirus.
- The date of Netanyahu's next hearing has been set for July 19.
- Netanyahu faces three cases and is the first sitting Prime Minister to be charged.
Thousands of Israeli citizens took to the streets of Jerusalem until late in the evening of July 14 in protest against the prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding for his resignation. Netanyahu is still involved in a threefold trial on charges of fraud, corruption and abuse of office.
Netanyahu is also currently the head of a government of national unity, assisted by his deputy, and ex-rival, Benny Gantz. The two leaders gained the confidence of the Knesset, the Israeli Parliament, on May 17, and, according to plans, will take turns leading the new executive for 18 months each.
The demonstrators, who gathered near Netanyahu’s home, on the one hand, criticized the policies adopted by the government in the management of the coronavirus. On the other hand, they opposed Netanyahu’s stay in office calling him a “corrupt premier.”
“Netanyahu corruption makes us sick,” read one of the posters, while another one read “the most lethal virus is not Covid-19, but corruption.” The indictment against Netanyahu came on November 21, 2019, but, as established by law, the prime minister will not be forced to resign until a sentence is officially issued against him.
The date of the next hearing has been set for July 19. This is the first case in Israel’s history in which a sitting prime minister is accused of criminal offenses, and the final court decision could end Netanyahu’s career.
Netanyahu is Israel’s longest-serving Prime Minister. Netanyahu, for his part, has always denied the accusations made against him, sometimes speaking of a “witch hunt” carried out by his detractors.
Meanwhile, Israel has so far reported a total of 42,360 infections from COVID-19 as of July 15, while the death toll is at 371. Although the country initially seemed to have managed the pandemic adequately, following the partial removal of some measures and restrictions in late May, the government found itself closing bars, sports centers and discos again, owing to the new increase in daily infections.
The Israeli economy has also suffered the consequences of the pandemic, with an unemployment rate rising from 3.4% in February to 27% in April. However, a slight drop was recorded in May, reaching 23.5%.
Netanyahu faces three cases: The first is known as “Case 1000,” where the prime minister is accused of abuse of office. In particular, Netanyahu is accused of having received gifts worth around $240,000 from overseas billionaires between 2007 and 2016, including cigars, champagne, jewelry and more. In return, he offered tax breaks for the business people that gifted him.
The “Case 2000” alledges the premier engaged in alleged negotiations with Arnon “Noni” Mozes, the owner of one of the major Israeli newspapers, Yedioth Ahronoth, aimed at obtaining greater media coverage in exchange for a limited circulation of the rival free newspaper, Israel Hayom. The latter is owned by a right-wing donor, Sheldon Adelson, considered a spokesman for the premier.
Finally, the case considered most serious is the “Case 4000,” concerning the relationship between Netanyahu and the telecommunications company Bezeq. The premier is accused of having offered benefits worth around $280 billion in exchange for the publication of news in his favor on Walla News, an online newspaper.
Furthermore, the merger between Bezeq and the YES television group, in 2015, when Netanyahu was at the Ministry of Communications, is also at the center of the investigations relating to this case. Prosecutors accuse the prime minister of being bribed to change the legislation in favor of Bezeq, allowing the latter to earn large sums.