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‘No 5th election’: Anti-Netanyahu protests return amid ongoing deadlock

Demonstrators urge party leaders to form a ‘change’ government in wake of inconclusive election results

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a junction near Tlalim, southern Israel, on April 10, 2021 (Courtesy: The Black Flags)
Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at a junction near Tlalim, southern Israel, on April 10, 2021 (Courtesy: The Black Flags)

Protesters against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu rallied across Israel on Saturday evening, calling upon politicians to unite against the long-serving leader and establish a new government, in order to prevent the country from heading into a possible fifth round of elections.

The main demonstrations were held outside the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem and Netanyahu’s private home in the coastal city of Caesaria. Several hundred demonstrators gathered in each of the locations. Smaller protests took place at highway overpasses and intersections around the country.

“Yes to the change government — No to the incitement government,” was the slogan for Saturday’s demonstrations, the Black Flags protest group said in a statement.

“After four elections that wounded the people of Israel, there is a clear outcome — the people have determined they want a change government,” the group said.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the entrance of Beersheba, on April 10, 2021 (Courtesy: The Black Flags)

With the March election results continuing the political deadlock of the past three elections over the last two years, it is unclear that either the bloc that supports Netanyahu or the bloc that opposes him will be able to form a government.

“We call on all party leaders who have promised change for the people of Israel — do everything to form a ‘change’ government, fifth elections are not an option” the Black Flags added.

Another protest group, Ein Matzav (“No Way” in Hebrew), which dismantled its protest encampment outside the premier’s official residence in Jerusalem days before the election, told the Haaretz daily the encampment would return shortly.

The demonstrations in Jerusalem Saturday were mostly peaceful, as protestors marched from the Prime Minister’s Residence to the President’s Residence. Footage from the scene showed police forces attempting to clear the demonstrators away from president’s official residence.

On Friday, 15 demonstrators who called upon Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit to remove Netanyahu from his position, a few dozen meters from Mandelblit’s home, were arrested for allegedly “disturbing the peace” within a residential neighborhood, Haaretz reported.

Israelis protest against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near his official residence in Jerusalem, on March 20, 2021, a few days before the Israeli general elections. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Demonstrators have been holding regular protests for months against Netanyahu, demanding he resign over his trial on charges of bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

At its height in mid-summer 2020, the anti-Netanyahu protest movement saw tens of thousands take to the streets in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, with thousands more at bridges and intersections across the country.

One of the largest demonstrations so far was held on March 20, in what was the final mass protest before the latest Knesset elections. Tens of thousands of demonstrators gathered in Jerusalem on that Saturday evening.

Protesters have also criticized his government’s handling of the coronavirus pandemic.

Netanyahu denies wrongdoing and claims the indictments are part of an effort by political rivals, the media, police, and prosecutors to remove him from office.

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