Thousands of Israelis throughout the country took part in weekly protests against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Saturday evening, at plazas and highway overpasses as well as outside the premier’s official Jerusalem residence.
Some participants expressed hope that Joe Biden’s victory in the US presidential race would bring changes in Israel as well.
The demonstrations at the capital’s Paris Square were far smaller than usual, possibly due to the colder weather and a rally to commemorate slain prime minister Yitzhak Rabin that was held in Tel Aviv at the same time. Channel 12 reported that some 3,000 people took part in the Jerusalem rally. The rallies also coincided with the US presidential election result and its aftermath.
Several hundred people participated in marches through Jerusalem and Tel Aviv. Outside the US consulate in Tel Aviv, some protesters called: “Trump’s out and Bibi’s next,” in reference to the US president’s election loss to Joe Biden.
Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans.
Biden has said he will not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, but has signaled he will take a more even-handed approach toward Iran and the Palestinians.
“I feel that to truly make progress with the peace and negotiation with the Palestinians, which is the most important path of peace, we need a United States that’s more neutral, that’s more a bridge between us and the Palestinians,” said protester Shani Weissman.
There were no reports of clashes between protesters and police.
המשטרה חסמה חלק מהצעדה שמונה כרגע עשרות מפגינים בבוגרשוב פינת הירקון בדרכם להבימה על מנת לסיים שם את הצעדה. המפגינים ניסו והצליחו בדין ודברים עם מפקד הכוח לפתוח את המחסום ולאפשר לצועדים להתקדם pic.twitter.com/hBslVEwjS0
— Bar Peleg (@bar_peleg) November 7, 2020
The Black Flags protests movement reported 37 incidents of violence directed at protesters around the country, including various objects that were thrown at activists and a motorcycle driver who drove threateningly toward a crowd.
The protesters oppose Netanyahu serving as prime minister while under indictment on three corruption charges: fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes. Netanyahu denies wrongdoing in a series of scandals involving billionaire associates and media moguls.
Many also criticize the prime minister for what they say is his bungling of the coronavirus outbreak and its economic fallout.
The protests have gone on for months and kept a spotlight on Netanyahu at a time when the long-serving leader’s popularity has declined because of his handling of the virus outbreak in Israel.
The country is emerging in gradual stages from a monthlong lockdown that the government imposed in September to tamp down infections. Restrictions still in place have kept stores, hotels and restaurants closed while the Israeli economy continues to take a hit, though many stores were set to reopen Sunday.