Thousands march against Israeli PM, graft

TEL AVIV • Thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against government corruption and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under criminal investigation over allegations of abuse of office.

Police, who estimated the number of protesters at about 10,000, followed last Saturday's demonstration, which was by far the largest of the recent weekly anti-corruption protests that saw an estimated 20,000 people taking part.

The protests have been sparked by corruption allegations against Mr Netanyahu, who denies any wrongdoing. The four-term leader is suspected of involvement in two cases. The first involves receiving gifts from wealthy businessmen and the second involves negotiating a deal with a newspaper owner for better coverage in return for curbs on a rival daily.

If charged, he would come under heavy pressure to resign or he could call an election to test if he still had a mandate to govern.

Mr Netanyahu's right-wing Likud party said in a Facebook post that the protest was a left-wing demonstration. It called on all Israelis to back their Prime Minister as he defends Israel against international criticism following United States President Donald Trump's acceptance of Jerusalem as Israel's capital. "Instead of uniting with all the people behind Jerusalem and showing the world a unified front, the left cannot contain itself and it prefers to create division," the statement said.

Over weeks of demonstrations, protesters have identified themselves as supporting both left-and right-wing parties. In the latest protest, they held banners reading: "Neither left, nor right, (we demand) integrity" and "Sweep the corrupt away".

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on December 11, 2017, with the headline 'Thousands march against Israeli PM, graft'. Print Edition | Subscribe