1,000 protest in Haifa, warn emerging government carrying out ‘coup’

Movement for a Quality Government in Israel urges public to rally against appointed convicted Shas leader Deri as a minister, giving power over police to far-right MK Ben Gvir

Screen capture from video of a demonstration in Haifa against the emerging government, December 24, 2022. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)
Screen capture from video of a demonstration in Haifa against the emerging government, December 24, 2022. (Twitter. Used in accordance with Clause 27a of the Copyright Law)

Some one thousand people demonstrated Saturday night in Haifa to protest against the incoming government, denouncing its inclusion of convicted Knesset members and far-right elements as a “coup.”

Among those who participated in the event was former defense minister Moshe Ya’alon, who held the position when he was a member of Likud, the party led by prime minister-designate Benjamin Netanyahu.

The rally was organized by the Movement for Quality Government in Israel, which has called for public protest against the emerging government, accusing the incoming coalition of planning to damage the democratic character of the country.

Netanyahu led a bloc of right, religious and ultra-Orthodox parties to victory in the November 1 elections and has since negotiated a coalition to form a government. Among controversial legislation demanded by his partners is giving expanded control over police to the incoming national security minister, MK Itamar Ben Gvir of the far-right Otzma Yehudit party, who has been convicted multiple times on incitement and terror charges. In addition, a law banning those serving a prison sentence from holding a ministerial position is to be tweaked to enable Shas party leader Aryeh Deri to take over the Interior Ministry, despite a suspended sentence he was given earlier this year.

“We must stop the authorization of the convicted criminal Deri as a member of the government and the transformation of the police into a political militia by the criminal Ben Gvir, all under the auspices of the defendant Netanyahu who is destroying democracy to escape justice,” the Movement for Quality Government said in a statement ahead of the rally.

Netanyahu is currently on trial for corruption and critics accuse him of agreeing to far-reaching demands by coalition parties in order to secure their future help in ending his trial.

The coming government must be opposed by the public because it “authorizes criminality and tramples the foundations of democracy,” the statement said, calling on the public to raise “a clear voice against the coup that threatens all of us.”

Ya’alon warned that Netanyahu’s government will lose “moral legitimacy” and turn Israel into an “pariah” in the international community,” leading to its swift collapse “but not before causing economic, security and moral damage.”

The Movement for Quality Government organized a similar demonstration last week in Tel Aviv.

Netanyahu formally declared on Wednesday that had formed a government, which he must swear into the Knesset by January 2. In the meantime, he has been working to hammer out coalition deals with his ultra-Orthodox and far-right political partners, further details of which emerged on Thursday.

Likud agreed as part of coalition talks to break up the authorities of various key ministries to allow other coalition parties greater power, including expanding the roles of the Interior Ministry for Shas and the Public Security Ministry for Otzma Yehudit; handing off aspects of the education portfolio to Shas and anti-LGBT Noam; and removing the Defense Ministry’s authority over West Bank civil affairs and construction, handing the matter over to Religious Zionism.

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