Middle East/North Africa

Tens of thousands protest outside Netanyahu’s home ahead of Israel’s election

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Tens of thousands of Israelis protested outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s house Saturday, just three days before the country’s election.

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

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 Trump. 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 Biden, 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.

Tags Benjamin Netanyahu Benny Gantz Donald Trump Israeli political crisis Joe Biden

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