Dozens of Israelis arrested at anti-Netanyahu protest

For six months, weekly protests against the Israeli prime minister have called on him to quit over corruption trial.

Police arrest an anti-Netanyahu protester outside his residence in West Jerusalem [Abir Sultan/EPA]

At least 30 people have been arrested in demonstrations against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Israeli media reported.

Police on Saturday said thousands of protesters gathered in Paris Square near Netanyahu’s residence in West Jerusalem and caused the closure of roads as well as public unrest.

The protesters have been gathering weekly for the past six months, saying Netanyahu should step down because of his going on trial for corruption and what they say is mismanagement of the country’s coronavirus crisis.

Netanyahu, who faces charges for bribery, breach of trust and fraud, has denied any wrongdoing.

According to Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the protest on Saturday was the largest in weeks, and took place ahead of a court hearing on Netanyahu’s request to dismiss his corruption cases slated for Sunday.

Israeli security forces clash with protesters during a demonstration against Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu outsidehis official residence in West Jerusalem [Menahem Kahana/AFP]

The protests began last spring when Netanyahu and his chief rival, Benny Gantz, agreed to form what they called an emergency government focused on managing the health and economic challenges stemming from the coronavirus pandemic.

Their partnership has been paralysed by infighting, and a pair of lockdowns hit the economy hard, sending unemployment skyrocketing to the double-digits.

This week, Gantz, who serves as Netanyahu’s defence minister, joined the opposition in approving a preliminary measure to dissolve the parliament and force new elections – the fourth in less than two years.

Gantz cited the government’s failure to approve a budget, which must be approved by December 23. A failure to do so would automatically cause the troubled coalition to collapse and trigger an early election.

A final vote to disband the parliament could take place as soon as next week.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies