Thousands march in Tel Aviv to demand Netanyahu's resignation

Thousands march in Tel Aviv to demand Netanyahu's resignation
Israel's police had earlier recommended indicting Netanyahu on corruption charges, but the final decision rests with the country's attorney general.
2 min read
16 February, 2018
Up to 2,000 Israelis gathered, carrying signs reading "crooks go home" and "crime minister" [Getty]

Thousands gathered in Tel Aviv on Friday to demand the resignation of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu in what was the first protest following police recommendations that the premier be indicted for corruption.

Between 1,000 to 2,000 Israelis gathered and carried signs reading "crooks go home" and "crime minister". The crowd also chanted "Liar! Liar!" when one speaker sarcastically repeated Netanyahu's claim that the allegations are baseless.

On Tuesday, police recommended Netanyahu be indicted for corruption, the biggest challenge yet to the premier'’s long tenure.

Netanyahu has repeatedly denied the allegations. His governing coalition partners have so far stood by him – the prime minister is not obliged to resign unless he is formally charged.

"Here in this square we pledge to fight you until you resign," said Abi Binyamin, an activist.

"We shall keep coming here for as long as it takes," she said.

Netanyahu is accused of receiving expensive gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and other media and business moguls.

Between 2007 and 2016, Netanyahu allegedly received cigars and other goods totaling $283,000. 

In a second case, the prime minister is accused of trying to reach an agreement with a newspaper for favourable coverage.

Netanyahu has called the investigations a police and media witch hunt.

The police recommendation is now with Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, who will decide whether to press charges.

Weekly anti-corruption protests have been taking place in Tel Aviv for months.

Colette Avital, a former Labour Party MP, told AFP the demonstrations were about more than just Netanyahu.

"(It is) against the fact that the ruling government allows itself to behave like this," she said.

Three polls published since Tuesday show that between 45 to 50 percent say Netanyahu should resign or temporarily step aside, with 40 to 43 percent saying he should stay on.

A separate Friday poll in Maariv newspaper found that 48 per cent of Israelis think Netanyahu is either corrupt or very corrupt.

It could take months before the attorney general decides whether to press charges.