Thousands Rally Against Israeli’s New Coalition Deal Before Court Hearing

Last Saturday, a surge of resentment among thousands of Israeli people took to the street with black flags in Tel Aviv’s Rabin to demonstrate against the unity deal between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz on the eve of a court hearing. Protesters shouted “Shame! Shame!” and held placards under the slogan, “saving the court, saying no to corrupt government” as a sign of dissatisfaction and backlash against the proposed government, illustrating how anger people have triggered about a series of controversial steps Prime Minister Netanyahu has moved since his defeat in the March 2 elections.

Demonstrators were agitated that the power-sharing deal could help Prime Minister Netanyahu remain in power for another 18 months, which could delay his trial on corruption charges of bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The group of protesters, thus, ask the supreme court to prohibit any indicted politician to form a new government. According to Eliad Shraga, a leader of the Movement for Quality Government said, “Israel is too precious for us to leave in the hands of a criminal defendant.”

Prime Minister Netanyahu and his supporters believed the new deal could bring political certainty to Israel after three inconclusive elections and a year of political stagnation. However, many still believed that his action was attempted to avoid prosecution for corruption indictment, as he ordered to lash out judicial system and postponed prime minister’s trial until May. Later, his ally suspended all parliamentary activities, temporarily preventing his opponents from proceeding with legislation. According to Economist Professor Anat Admati at Stanford University stated, “we are seeing the situation exploited for the sake of a wasteful government to give power for a man under criminal indictment. People with power often forget who gave them power, and that is the definition of corruption.”

The discontent was intensified among grassroots advocacy and protesters also as a result of inadequate response to the economic downturn during the pandemic. Thousands of protesters including professional unions, labour organization and advocacy groups parade on the street of Tel Aviv demanding the government to give furloughed workers a hundred per cent of the salary they obtained prior COVID-19 pandemic. Since the outbreak of COVID-19, the economy in Israel has been ransacked, which more than one million of Israeli citizens are unemployed and thousands of independents and small businesses are struggling to pull through this economic difficulty. 

The unity agreement also embraced the ability of Prime Minister Netanyahu and his rival Gantz to advance legislation to annex the occupied West Bank, coinciding with the peace plan unveiled by US President Donald Trump in January. This settlement was considered illegal under the International Law. On the other hand, Palestinian Prime Minster Mohammed Stayyeh reacted by stating, “an Israeli annexation government would end the two-state solution and the dismantling of the rights of the people of Palestine as established under international law and resolutions.”

This coalition deal was contentious as it thought of it as a way to trample democracy and yet another inappropriate political meddling. However, some analysts said the court was unlikely to prohibit Netanyahu from forming a new government because if the court strikes down the coalition deal, Israeli could be plunged into a fourth consecutive election in just over 12 months.