'Setting aside Black Flag; proudly waving flag of Israel'

Anti-Netanyahu protest group closes shop after ex-PM ousted: ‘We won’

With swearing in of new government that saw Israel’s longest-serving premier replaced, Black Flag movement declares ‘immediate threat to Israeli democracy has been removed’

People protest against then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on January 16, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)
Illustrative: Israelis protest against then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu outside his official residence in Jerusalem on January 16, 2021 (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

A group that helped lead protests over the past year against Benjamin Netanyahu announced Thursday it would halt operations, declaring victory after a new government that saw former premier replaced as prime minister was sworn in.

“The State of Israel has set out on a new path,” the Black Flag movement wrote on its Facebook page. “The immediate threat to Israeli democracy has been removed. We won.”

The organization was one of several prominent activist groups that helped lead the rallies against Netanyahu, who the demonstrators called on to resign over his criminal trial on corruption charges. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in the cases.

“A criminal defendant kidnapped the country and embarked on a campaign in which he planned to dismantle the judicial system, use the Israel Police as an enforcement arm of his rule and turn all of us into his dependents,” the group claimed.

It added: “Without the uncompromising struggle of all us we wouldn’t have reached this day… without you the defendant would still be in the prime minister’s chair and Israeli democracy would be under existential threat.”

The group also said its members “are now setting aside the black flag and proudly waving the flag of the State of Israel.”

A convoy of vehicles carrying protesters takes part in a demonstration against then-prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in the coastal town of Caesarea, October 14, 2020. (Meir Vaknin/Flash90)

Other protest groups vowed to continue demonstrating despite Netanyahu’s ouster as prime minister.

“We’ll continue to act in the public sphere to eradicate governmental corruption of all stripes and to strengthen democracy,” the Crime Minister organization was quoted saying by the Ynet news site.

The main protest site over the past year was outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem, where thousands regularly rallied each Saturday night after Shabbat. Smaller protests were also held near Netanyahu’s private home in the coastal town of Caesaria and at highway overpasses, junctions and other sites across the country.

Netanyahu’s run of 12 consecutive years in office was ended on June 13 when an unlikely alliance of right-wing, left-wing, centrist and Islamist parties swore in a new government with a razor-thin majority. The ex-premier, Israel’s longest-serving leader, is now Knesset opposition chief and has vowed to swiftly bring down the power-sharing government led by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett and Foreign Minister Yair Lapid.

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