In footage captured at the demonstration, protesters called for an end to Netanyahu’s 12-year rule as the country heads into its fourth election in two years. The protest was the largest against Netanyahu this year, with local media estimating the crowd topping 20,000 people, according to a report from Reuters.
Some 20,000 people at anti-Netanyahu protest in Jerusalem pic.twitter.com/fNuiVSdpU8— Noga Tarnopolsky (@NTarnopolsky) March 20, 2021
Netanyahu’s Likud Party is anticipated to win the most parliamentary seats in the March 23 election, though it is unclear if it will be able to win a majority by itself or form one with another party.
The demonstrations also come as Netanyahu remains embroiled in an alleged corruption scandal over charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The prime minister maintains his innocence.
Israel’s fourth snap election of two years was sparked in December when its parliament missed a deadline to pass a budget. The breakdown occurred over a dispute between Netanyahu and Defense Minister Benny Gantz over the national budget, which is critical to the power-sharing agreement formed between them after the third election. The election would have ushered Gantz into the role of prime minister in November 2021.
Netanyahu has been aided in past elections by his close relationship with former President TrumpDonald TrumpSenate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale Crenshaw slams House Freedom Caucus members as 'grifters,' 'performance artists' Senate confirms Biden's nominee to lead Customs and Border Protection MORE. The White House moved the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, recognized Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights region and helped usher in peace deals with four majority Arab nations, helping the prime minister argue that his bond with Washington was key to Israel’s prosperity.
While the relationship with the U.S. will likely change under President BidenJoe BidenHouse passes 8B defense policy bill House approves bill to ease passage of debt limit hike Senate rejects attempt to block Biden's Saudi arms sale MORE, who has taken a tougher stance on Israeli actions in the West Bank, Netanyahu has still expressed optimism that Jerusalem’s new ties with Arab states and its rapid coronavirus vaccination program will keep him in his post.