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  • Protesters observed the social distancing rule to fight coronavirus, and called on Gantz not to join in a coalition led by an indicted PM.

    Protesters observed the social distancing rule to fight coronavirus, and called on Gantz not to join in a coalition led by an indicted PM. | Photo: EFE

Published 19 April 2020
Opinion

"Let democracy win," one banner read, while some demonstrators had written "Crime Minister" on their masks, in a reference to Netanyahu's upcoming trial for corruption.

Under strict COVID-19 restrictions, thousands of people in Tel Aviv, Israel, demonstrated Sunday against the possible extension of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s term under the current alliance negotiations between him and former rival Benny Gantz.

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Wearing face masks, waving black flags as a symbol of threats against democracy, the protesters who observed the social distancing rule to fight coronavirus, called on Gantz’s Blue and White party not to join in a coalition led by a PM charged with corruption.

Israeli media estimated that around 2,000 people answered the call launched on social media by the "Black Flag" movement, which opposes Netanyahu's continuing rule, according to AFP.

"Let democracy win," one banner read, while some demonstrators had written "Crime Minister" on their masks, in a reference to Netanyahu's upcoming trial for corruption.

Gantz had vowed during his campaigns that he would never sit in a government led by a premier facing corruption charges. But the former general changed his position due to the gravity of the coronavirus crisis, he said. His decision drew heavy criticism from his anti-Netanyahu supporters and caused his Blue and White alliance to dissolve. 

Netanyahu, Israel’s longest-serving PM and the first to be legally charged while in function is under criminal indictment in three corruption cases. He denies all the accusations against him.

The Knesset (Israel’s parliament) was tasked Thursday to form a government after he and Gantz failed to meet the deadline set by the country's president, but talks between the two parties were still ongoing.

The 120-member Knesset is deeply divided and doesn’t have many options for a stable ruling coalition. The move risks thus to prolong the country's year-long and worst political crisis in decades.

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