TEL AVIV: Thousands of people rallied in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Tuesday (Wednesday in Manila) in what was intended to be a show of strength for the Israeli leader as he battles a corruption indictment and a possible rebellion within his own party.
While the demonstration has no impact on the legal charges, a strong turnout could give Netanyahu a boost in terms of public opinion and against potential rivals in his Likud party as the country appears to be heading toward new elections.
Netanyahu has claimed that he is the victim of an attempted “coup” by overzealous police investigators and prosecutors.
As the protest got underway in central Tel Aviv, a crowd of roughly 5,000 people rallied for Netanyahu, hoisting Israeli flags and posters that accused prosecutors of “blackmail” and “threats.”
In a possible sign of trouble for Netanyahu, most of Likud’s senior officials skipped the event. Netanyahu ally Micky Zohar, one of the few Likud officials to attend, took to the stage to criticize the country’s legal system.
He said the goal of the demonstration was not to “attack” the legal system, drawing boos from the crowd. “We can’t replace the system, but we can change it,” he said
Culture Minister Miri Regev, another Netanyahu backer, said the protest aimed to “convey a message that the rule of law isn’t above the law.” AP