Tens of thousands of people - according to the organizers - gathered outside the Tel Aviv museum. The protesters brandished images of Erdogan, symbol of the "regime" that wants to establish the premier. Supreme Court called to judge on corruption and fraud allegations. Possible (and sensational) new elections on the horizon.
Tel Aviv (AsiaNews / Agencies) - Israelis are protesting a government majority bill to guarantee immunity to the Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (in his fifth mandate) from investigations by the judiciary for corruption and fraud. Over the weekend, thousands of people gathered outside the Tel Aviv museum, the country's economic and commercial capital, in a "pro-democracy" demonstration that brought together the main opposition camps.
The street demonstrations are the first since the electoral victory of the outgoing premier in early April. Some of the protesters wore red fez in Ottoman style and wore portraits of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, whom they believe "embodies the type of regime we are fighting".
Organizers report tens of thousands of joining in the protest but there has been no official data on numbers. Benny Gantz, a former army general and Netanyahu's main challenger in the last election, was among protest leaders and he addressed the crowd urging them to demonstrate. He then strongly attacked the prime minister, accusing him of blemishing the dream of Israel with his leadership. "There are those who are attempting to replace the people's rule with the rule of a single man and to enslave an entire nation to the interests of one man," Gantz said.
According to reports from the main opposition figures, Netanyahu - who at this time presided over a meeting of the troubled majority and appeared particularly nervous - cannot serve as head of government in the event of incrimination. The Supreme Court is the body called to decide whether he will resign the least; however, according to critics and civil society, the Prime Minister is trying to limit - if not disregard - its powers to retain power. His goal, they add, is to get a law approved that protects him from accusations of corruption.
Netanyahu is accused among others of having pocketed assets and gifts for almost 270 thousand dollars in branded cigars and champagne, in exchange for political favors. In the second line of inquiry, he would have passed regulations favorable to the telecommunications company Bezeq, in exchange for favorable press coverage. Finally, he would have benefited from flattering articles and reports on his work and on the family of the daily newspaper Yedioth Ahronot, the best-selling newspaper in the country, in exchange for harassing and discriminating measures against a rival media.
He faces sentences of between three and ten years in prison. He has always maintained his innocence, terming teh charges a political "witch hunt".
This has further complicated the formation of a new government . The deadline for the presentation of the new executive is set for May 29, but internal tensions and street protests - with the judicary's sword hanging over the prime minister's head - have slowed the process. The political and institutional scenario is getting more and more tangled with the passing of the hours and some members of Likud (Netanyahu's party) have begun to speak of new (and sensational) early elections if the situation does not improve.