Israelis Protest Gantz-Netanyahu Pact

  • The "Black Flag" protesters have adhered to social distancing measures put forward by the Health Ministry.
  • They believe that the coalition pact is an attempt by the premier to get rid of his legal woes. 
  • They want the Prime Minister and some of his cronies to go home.

Over 2,000 Israelis have taken to the streets of Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to protest the unity government agreement between Benny Gantz and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. It leaves Netanyahu in power, even as he prepares to go to trial for a slew of corruption cases.

Benjamin “Benny” Gantz is an Israeli politician. He served as the 20th Chief of General Staff of the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) from 2011 to 2015. In December 2018, he established a new political party named Israel Resilience. The party later allied itself with Telem and Yesh Atid to form Blue and White, the colours of the Israeli national flag.

The “Black Flag” protesters have adhered to social distancing measures put forward by the Health Ministry. Waving both Israeli and black flags, they have hit out at Netanyahu for the alleged corruption. The demonstrators want the prime minister to vacate his premier position because he’s a criminal suspect who’s still under investigation.

They lament that the new power-sharing deal will enable Netanyahu to appoint judges and other judicial officials presiding over his case. This, in their view, is as an attack on democracy. They believe that the coalition pact is an attempt by the premier to get rid of his legal woes. A much smaller protest had been held in the town of Kiryat Tivon. About 200 people took part in the demonstrations.

Former head of the Shin Bet intelligence agency, Carmi Gillon, took part in another Tel Aviv protest held earlier this week. He accused Netanyahu of trying to destroy Israel’s Knesset. According to the former spy agency boss, the latest agreement transfers parliamentary authority to the new 52-member “government.” He contends that the Supreme Court is the only institution capable of defending the country’s democracy before being finally undermined.

Legislative elections were held in Israel on 2 March 2020 to elect members of the twenty-third Knesset. They were the third snap elections to be held within a year, after two inconclusive elections in April and September 2019.

A similar rally, held last Sunday, was attended by several thousand protesters. Yair Lapid, leader of Yesh Atid, and Moshe Ya’alon, leader of Telem, also participated in the rally. Both parties were allied with Gantz under the Blue and White alliance. Speaking at the event, Lapid accused Gantz of betraying the Israeli people. The following is an excerpt from his statement.

“They are fighting to get into the government. Telling themselves stories. They say, ‘We’ll fight from the inside.’ You won’t fight from the inside. You don’t fight corruption from within. If you’re inside, you’re part of it.”

He said that the two men didn’t discuss serious national matters, such as the coronavirus crisis and the economy, during negotiations. According to the politician, the Gantz-Netanyahu talks were all about their personal positions in government.

“They didn’t talk about the economy. They talked about themselves. About their jobs. Those who broke up Blue and White and defrauded us are going to sit under a man indicted for fraud. Those who breached our trust, are going to sit under a man indicted for breach of trust.”

The prime minister currently faces fraud, bribery, and breach of trust charges. The trial was supposed to begin on March 17, but postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the protests have received the green-light, there are concerns that they could undermine the war against coronavirus. This is because there is no proper way to enforce social distancing measures in such scenarios.

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Samuel Gush

Samuel Gush is a Technology, Entertainment, and Political News writer at Communal News.

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