Thousands rally against ‘crime minister’ Netanyahu in Tel Aviv
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Thousands rally against ‘crime minister’ Netanyahu in Tel Aviv

Demonstrators at weekly anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv call on PM to resign; similar rallies also held in Haifa, Afula

Thousands of Israelis attend  the weekly anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv on January 6, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Thousands of Israelis attend the weekly anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv on January 6, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Thousands of people attended an anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv for a sixth consecutive week Saturday, with demonstrators calling on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to step down over graft allegations.

Braving the cold and damp, protesters held up signs against government corruption and calling Netanyahu the “crime minister.”

Police said a number of streets were closed off around the city’s Rothschild Boulevard as a result of the demonstration.

A few hundred protesters were also reported to have attended similar rallies in the northern cities of Haifa and Afula.

Thousands of Israelis attend the weekly anti-corruption protest in Tel Aviv on January 6, 2018. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

The recent Tel Aviv protests began after nearly a year of anti-corruption demonstrations held in Petah Tikva every Saturday evening near Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s home, with organizers accusing Israel’s top prosecutor of slow-walking the probes involving the prime minister.

On Friday, Hadashot TV news reported police have revised their plan to submit recommendations in the two corruption cases against Netanyahu in the first weeks of the year, with the investigation now expected to wrap up by Passover, at the end of March.

Netanyahu himself appears to expect police to recommend charges against him, and has sought to downplay the importance of any such recommendation, recently telling a rally of Likud party members it was meaningless. (It is for state prosecutors, not police, to make a final decision on indictments.)

Netanyahu in the same speech, attacked law enforcement, alluding to unfair treatment at the hands of police.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a Likud rally marking the Hanukkah holiday in Tel Aviv on December 19, 2017. (Flash90)

The premier is a suspect in two corruption investigations, known as cases 1000 and 2000. In the first, 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 Mozes that would have seen the prime minister weaken a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in return for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

He denies any wrongdoing.

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