Tel Aviv protester raps PM as ‘Traitor-Yahu’ as 5th rally draws thousands

Anti-corruption demonstrators chant ‘Netanyahu to Ma’asiyahu [prison]’; coalition chairman accuses demonstrators of ‘crossing red lines’

Israelis prepare for the weekly protest against the corruption of the government in Tel Aviv on December 30, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Israelis prepare for the weekly protest against the corruption of the government in Tel Aviv on December 30, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Several thousand protesters gathered at an anti-corruption demonstration in Tel Aviv, the fifth in as many Saturday nights, calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be jailed.

“Netanyahu to Ma’asiyahu [prison],” chanted demonstrators on Rothschild Boulevard in the coastal city.

One protester brandished a sign reading “Traitor-Yahu” on one side, and “Parasite-Yahu,” on the other, a play on the prime minister’s name.

New coalition chairman David Amsalem (Likud) accused the protesters of crossing “red lines.”

“The left-wing protests started with unacceptable pressure against law enforcement, continued with photos of me and Bitan as apes… last week came to the guillotine and incitement to murder, and this week [featured] a sign of ‘Traitor-Yahu’ against the prime minister,” said Amsalem.

“The Rothschild protesters want to replace the government without elections, and on the way they cross red lines again and again,” added the Likud MK.

At the previous Tel Aviv event, held last Saturday night, one protester caused outrage by parading with a cardboard guillotine.

That sign was condemned by lawmakers across the political spectrum and President Reuven Rivlin as “incitement.”

The weekly protests, which began a year ago in Petah Tikva and spread to Tel Aviv, have also alleged stalling by law enforcement in the Netanyahu corruption probes.

The latest round of protests came days after the Knesset passed a law blocking police investigators from informing prosecutors whether they believe there are grounds for indicting suspected public officials.

Tens of thousands of Israelis turn out in Tel Aviv to a protest against government corruption on December 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Police are planning on recommending that Netanyahu stand trial in two criminal cases currently open against him, over suspicions he received illegal gifts and favors from businessmen while advancing their interests, police officials told The Times of Israel.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro-quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

The prime minister has denied wrongdoing in all instances.

The protesters have sought to position themselves as being above party politics, insisting that the sharp anti-Netanyahu tone at their rallies is due to the fact that the prime minister is under investigation for suspected corruption.

Bolstering that claim was a largely right-wing event Saturday night in Jerusalem that was also billed as anti-corruption. But the rally in the capital, organized by right-wing columnist Yoaz Hendel, Netanyahu’s former communications director and current chair of the centrist Institute for Zionist Strategies think tank, only drew several hundred people.

Rivlin also courted controversy last week after he appeared to praise the weekly anti-corruption protests. He later said his comments were taken out of context.

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