Netanyahu's 'Night of Rage' at Risk of Fizzling Out

With hours to go, Netanyahu has been working overtime to bolster crowds at a Tel Aviv protest against the 'coup' – but his party fears only a handful will show up

Demonstration staged in protest of Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit's decision to indict Netanyahu in three graft cases, November 2019.
Ohad Zwigenberg

Despite Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's efforts, his Likud party is concerned only a small number of people will come out Tuesday evening for a Tel Aviv protest against the "coup d'état."

The protest, at the Tel Aviv Museum, was scheduled following Netanyahu's indictment with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three corruption cases. After the indictments, Netanyahu launched a fierce attack on the Israeli judicial system, decrying the "attempted coup" against an acting prime minister.

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The slogan for the protest is "safeguarding the country, putting a stop to the coup." Though the Likud is not mentioned as one of the protest's organizers, the funding – as well as the planning – comes from the ruling party. Other organizers include right-wing groups Regavim, Im Tirzu, Yisrael Sheli and others.

Netanyahu has been relentlessly working over the past several days to convince supports to attend the rally, but his main obstacle has been Likud ministers and Knesset members. 

It was unclear whether Netanyahu himself would attend the protest, but the prime minister left Likud's Tel Aviv headquarters for Jerusalem on Tuesday evening, making his attendence unlikely.

His Likud aide Chani Bleiweiss has repeatedly asked the lawmakers to take part in the rally, but so far only Environmental Protection Minister Zeev Elkin has said he would come.

Furthermore, Netanyahu longtime loyalist Culture Minister Miri Regev said she has previous engagements. Minister Ofir Akunis and Likud MK Yoav Kisch also said they will not attend. According to reports on Tuesday, Netanyahu asked council heads in Israeli settlements to rally supporters, but was refused.

Hundreds of thousands of text messages have been sent to Netanyahu supporters in recent days, coupled with an internet campaign. Netanyahu himself plans to phone top Likud officials and activists and ask them come to the rally.