Delegations coming into the White House Tuesday to attend the signing ceremony of a U.S.-brokered normalization agreement between Israel and two Gulf states were greeted by Israeli expats protesting against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
In recent weeks, members of the group UnXeptable have been demonstrating in several U.S. cities in solidarity with mass protests taking place in Israel. Carrying signs that read “yes to peace, no to the crime minister,” they said they support the agreement but object to Netanyahu as the signatory for Israel.
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They argue against the legitimacy of the whole event, given the fact that the prime minister is currently facing trial on corruption charges. He is endangering Israel’s status as a democratic country, protesters said, hoping to convey a message to Netanyahu that protests against his rule will follow him everywhere in the world.
One of the organizers, Offir Gutelzon of Palo Alto, California, left Israel six years ago. He told Haaretz that the protesters have no political aspirations but only the desire to see that Israel remain a democratic country.
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“We are for peace and we love [our] country, but we cannot support the fact that a person indicted on criminal charges signs the agreements," he said. "We're in favor of anything that is positive for Israel. We are protesting because it’s inconceivable for someone to sign an agreement when he acts like a dictator," he added.
Attorney Gonen Ben-Itzhak, a member of the Crime Minister protest movement, flew to Washington especially to join the protest. “This day is a bittersweet day," he said. "It’s sweet because the idea of annexation officially dies today, and it’s bitter because, in a democratic country, the prime minister should not decide things alone, sign agreements and only then present them to the government and the Knesset, comes to sign an agreement without consulting his foreign minister."
"If we could have been in Bonn on the day the corrupt agreements were signed for the purchase of the submarines, we would have," he added, referring to a corruption scandal regarding the purchase of miltary submarines that has also touched Netanyahu, "therefore we are standing here to protest."