- Under the deal, Gantz will serve as the Defense Minister until next year before taking over as the Prime Minister.
- Critics have accused Gantz of allowing the Prime Minister too much control over the judicial system.
- This is the second of such protests in less than a week.
Thousands of protesters turned to Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square to demonstrate against a unity government deal between the country’s Prime Minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, and former opposition leader Benny Gantz. The protesters claim that the move was an affront to the country’s democracy under Prime Minister Netanyahu’s leadership.
The deal was signed on Monday by the two leaders after weeks of negotiations. Both called it a national emergency government meant to lead the country through the coronavirus pandemic. The protesters urged the Israel Resilience Party and its leader not to get into a coalition with Netanyahu, who faces charges of corruption.
Due to fear of the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the protesters wore face masks and observed the social distancing rule by staying two metres apart. Most of the protesters who wore black clothes were seen waving flags. The confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel are over 15,000, with nearly 200 deaths.
Under the deal, Gantz will serve as the Defense Minister until next year before taking over as the Prime Minister. Elections will then be held 18 months later. Netanyahu, who faces charges of fraud, breach of trust, and bribery, is scheduled to face trial on 24th May. The trial datewas moved from March due the coronavirus outbreak.
Critics have accused Gantz, the former Chief of the General Staff, of allowing the Prime Minister too much control over the judicial system instead of protecting it in the signed coalition deal. In the deal, Netanyahu has power over appointments to the state prosecution hierarchy and all the other senior public appointments for at least the first six months of the newly formed coalition.
This is a move that will greatly favor him as the case progresses. The Prime Minister has also been accused of not owning up to his decisions and actions. Netanyahu “is the first and only Israeli Prime Minister who has never taken responsibility for his actions and decisions,” said Cami Gilon, former Shin Bet security service chief.
This is the second of such protests in less than a week. A similar demonstration was held last Sunday, where thousands of Israelis attended. While addressing the protesters, one of the organizers, and a former ally of Gantz, Yair Lapid, said the former military chief has become part of the problem.
Lapid added that they were fighting to get into government. “The government being formed isn’t an emergency government or a national unity government. It is the fifth Netanyahu government. In the negotiations they didn’t talk about coronavirus. They didn’t talk about the economy. They talked about themselves. About their jobs,” Lapid said.
The movement dubbed the “Black Flag,” originates from demonstrators pinning black flags to their vehicles and homes to show their opposition to the continued rule of Netanyahu which poses danger to Israeli’s democracy. In the previous protests, demonstrators stayed in their vehicles so as to uphold the social distancing regulation.