Yesh Atid urges protesters to ‘fight for the country’ at planned weekend rallies

‘We won’t be silent when they’re harming our soldiers and our children,’ says Lapid, as opposition lawmakers meet to form a ‘united front’ against incoming government’s positions

Israelis protest against Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on October 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)
Israelis protest against Likud leader Benjamin Netanyahu at Habima Square in Tel Aviv on October 29, 2022. (Avshalom Sassoni/Flash90)

Yesh Atid issued a call on Tuesday for activists to take to the streets this weekend and protest against the expected incoming government led by Benjamin Netanyahu.

The rallying cry comes days after outgoing Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s National Unity party announced the establishment of a forum called “The Struggle for the Character of the State,” as the opposition factions jostle to lead the battle against the future coalition before it has even been formed.

Yesh Atid called on its supporters to “stop the insanity” and “fight for the country” by turning out to protests on Friday morning and Saturday afternoon “on the streets and the bridges.”

“We’re done being upset by the outcome of the election,” said outgoing Prime Minister Yair Lapid, who leads Yesh Atid. “We’re going to fight for our country, for the education of our children, for the IDF and its values and for democracy.”

Lapid, who is expected to become opposition leader, accused Netanyahu of being “weaker than ever” and giving away “all that is holy and dear to the citizens of Israel to the most extreme and wild group in Israeli society.”

In a statement, the outgoing prime minister averred that “we are not here just to pay taxes and send our children to the army. We will fight for our country — it won’t happen in a day, but we’re not afraid of anyone, and we won’t be silent when they are harming our soldiers and our children.”

The call by Yesh Atid is just the latest in a series of actions by the slated opposition parties to organize against the expected future right-wing religious government led by Netanyahu.

On Tuesday evening, a series of opposition figures met to discuss and coordinate activities under the umbrella of National Unity head Gantz’s Struggle for the Character of the State.

Representatives of Labor, National Unity, Meretz and Yesh Atid meet to coordinate their fight against the incoming government, on December 6, 2022. (Courtesy)

Lawmakers from Yesh Atid, National Unity, Labor and Meretz — which did not make it into the 25th Knesset — met and vowed to form a “united front against the attacks on the justice system, the education system, the IDF and democracy as a whole.”

The parties said that other expected opposition factions, Yisrael Beytenu, Ra’am and Hadash-Ta’al, were invited to the forum but could not attend, but will take part in future meetings.

Upon announcing the establishment of the forum earlier this week, Gantz said that it is “important to establish an action forum that will begin to think of combined parliamentary, public, and media moves” against the “damage to democratic values” he is seeing in the coalition agreements signed so far by Netanyahu.

“We will not be silent. We will fight together for the character of the state, in education, the judicial system, and the IDF,” Gantz added.

Earlier Tuesday, Lapid led a Knesset conference organized by the outgoing government and dubbed an “emergency meeting” to protest against the purported plan by Likud to parcel out portions of the Education Ministry to various

During the meeting, Lapid accused the incoming coalition of “caring so little that they’ve turned our children’s education into yet another shameful scene of insanely dividing the spoils.”

Prime Minister Yair Lapid attends an emergency conference on the education system, in the Knesset on December 6, 2022. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The next education minister is likely to be a Likud MK, but recent days have seen multiplying reports of various branches of the ministry being divvied out to other parties.

Following news that control of external programming at schools will be under the authority of far-right MK Avi Maoz, whose Noam party ran on a homophobic and anti-pluralistic platform, it has emerged that the ministry’s Department of Jewish Culture will be handed over to MK Orit Strock of Religious Zionism, and Likud has also reportedly agreed to hand control of community centers throughout the country to the ultra-Orthodox Shas party.

On Saturday, Lapid announced the launch of a hotline for parents opposed to “the extreme and dangerous content” of Maoz to contact local authorities and schools to ensure “liberal content” is taught in place of Noam’s “backward, homophobic, nationalistic and violent doctrine.”

And over the weekend, National Unity MK and former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot called for mass protests against Netanyahu if he enacts the expected coalition’s controversial plans.

“If Netanyahu harms the national interests of the State of Israel, if he harms Israeli democracy, state education, and the Israel Defense Forces’ status as the national army — the way to deal with this is to get a million people onto the streets,” Eisenkot said.

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