Hundreds of Israelis Protest in Tel Aviv Against Netanyahu’s West Bank Annexation Plan

With attendance capped at 1,500 because of renewed coronavirus outbreak, speakers warn that annexing settlements would destroy two-state solution

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Hagar Shezaf
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An aerial view of the protest against Israeli annexation in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, June 23, 2020.
An aerial view of the protest against Israeli annexation in Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, June 23, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
הגר שיזף
Hagar Shezaf

Hundreds of people protested Tuesday night in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square against annexation of territory in the West Bank, with the number of demonstrators limited to 1,500 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Among the speakers were Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Yadlin and Maj. Gen. (res.) Amos Gilad, and former National Security Council chairman Uzi Arad.

Police restricted attendance to the same maximum number set for previous demonstrations at Rabin Square.

LISTEN: Bibi Eyes 'Annexation Lite' as Pandemic Panic Returns

Yadlin, who is also a former head of the National Institute for Security Studies, told the audience, contrasted Netanyahu’s plan for annexation with the anti-annexation bloc’s path to “a Jewish, democratic, secure and moral state.”

Yair Fink, the director of Darkenu, the movement that organized the demonstration, dictated a phone number to the crowd and said it was Defense Minister Benny Gantz’s number. “Please text him,” he said. “Shalom Benny, I voted for Kahol Lavan and I am now at a demonstration for Israel and against annexation and I ask for you to see to it that our money goes to the self-employed and the unemployed and not to annexations. Don’t disappoint us again.”

Demonstrators against Israeli annexation of the West Bank, Rabin Square, Tel Aviv, June 23, 2020.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum

One of the protesters, Inbar Marmelstein, said she had joined Peace Now to oppose annexation. “I came today because I feel it’s my obligation, that if annexation happens and I’ve done nothing, then I haven’t fulfilled my obligation. I define myself as centrist, but unilateral annexation is the worst thing economically, diplomatically, strategically and of course morally, and especially at time of the greatest crisis the world has seen in recent years.”

Uri Dolev, 65, from Kfar Sava, said: “We see annexation as a destructive step whose whole purpose is to allow [Netanyahu] to flee from justice.” He added: “The biggest worry is that our dream to part from the Palestinians and reach a two-state solution and a Jewish and democratic state – annexation has created the opposite outcome.”

The organizers emphasized the economic facet of annexation in an attempt to attract people who are not leftists, saying in a statement: “Israelis say in every opinion poll that this is not the time to invest billions in annexation. This is the time to invest in us, the unemployed, the self-employed and business owners.”

Earlier Tuesday, Gantz came out in support of annexation, saying that the Palestinians were not ready to discuss the issue and that Israel will have to “move ahead without them.”

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