Rival Israeli protesters take to streets over Netanyahu corruption charges

Rival Israeli protesters take to streets over Netanyahu corruption charges
2 min read
03 March, 2019
Hundreds of pro and anti-government protesters have taken to the streets of Israel, as elections loom.
Netanyahu supporters and critics faced off [Getty]

Israeli pro and anti-government protesters took to the streets of Tel Aviv on Saturday as Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu comes under the greatest scrutiny in his political career.

Supporters of the hard line premier rallied on the streets as Netanyahu faces graft charges against him. 

They carried placards reading "Netanyahu, the people are with you" and "Netanyahu, my prime minister".

Facing them were opponents of the right-wing prime minister who waved signs saying "Crime Minister" and "Time for Netanyahu to Go", an AFP photographer said.

Opponents of Netanyahu have called on him to step down, after it was announced that Netanyahu will faces charges of bribery over alleged regulatory benefits granted to a telecoms firm in exchange for positive coverage from a related media company. He will also faces of charges of fraud and breach of trust.

Under Israeli law Netanyahu is not obliged to resign unless he is charged, convicted and loses all appeals, a lengthy process.

Comment: Is anti-Zionism a form of anti-Semitism?

It comes as Netanyahu faces a fifth term as prime minister in an April general election, where he has allied himself with the far-right.

Netanyahu said he wanted to remain as prime minister for "a long time to come" despite the allegations.

In Ramle, near Tel Aviv, opposition Labor activists have projected onto the wall of a prison that housed a number of former Israeli politicians a giant message reading "Netanyahu, Israel is ashamed", according to AFP.

Traffic in Jerusalem was diverted from side streets adjacent to Netanyahu's official residence, where another group was demonstrating, a police statement said.

This related to a deal Netanyahu has brokered to improve the election chances of a party widely condemned as racist, when he mentored an agreement for an electoral alliance between Jewish Power and two other far-right groupings.

This would make it easier for the controversial party to cross the vote threshold for a parliamentary seat.

Netyanhu has been prime minister for 13 years, and would be on track to surpass  David Ben-Gurion as Israel's longest-serving premier should he win in April.

An indictment would mark the first time in Israeli history that a sitting prime minister has been charged.