'Stop the Coup': Hundreds Protest in Tel Aviv, Calling for Netanyahu to Get Immunity From Prosecution

Protesters are defending Netanyahu ahead of a High Court discussion on whether he should be allowed to form a government after he was charged in three criminal cases

Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg
People protesting in Tel Aviv in defense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right to form government and obtain immunity from prosecution, December 30, 2019.
People protesting in Tel Aviv in defense of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's right to form government and obtain immunity from prosecution, December 30, 2019.Credit: Moti Milrod
Bar Peleg
Bar Peleg

Some 500 people are protesting at Tel Aviv's Habima Square, calling on Israel's High Court of Justice not to bar Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government.

The demonstration comes ahead of a High Court discussion on Tuesday on whether the prime minister should be allowed to try and establish a coalition after he had been charged in three criminal cases.

Netanyahu decided to ask for immunity from prosecution, and was expected to make an announcement declaring his intentions Monday evening before the Wednesday deadline to make an official request expires. He cancelled the press conference a press conference out of concern that his statements could influence the High Court's discussion.

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Protesters are holding banners that read: "Stopping the coup, saving democracy," "Shai Nitzan [departing state prosecutor] should be interrogated" and "Only the people will decide."

The protest was organized by several right-wing organizations, among them Im Tirtzu. They wish to see the prime minister get immunity from prosecution.

Netanyahu has been charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust in a favorable news coverage for telecommunications benefits case (Case 4000), as well as fraud and breach of trust in cases pertaining to lavish gifts for political favors and favorable coverage in return for legislation (Cases 1000 and 2000). The indictment alleges that Netanyahu “placed himself in a conflict of interests between his public roles and his private affairs.”

Speaking Monday evening, the premier said: "There are those who try to drag the High Court into the political field in order to slander and legally thwart my candidancy for premiership."

"I can't imagine Israel's High Court of Justice will fall for this trap," the prime minister added. "In a democracy, those who decide who will lead the people are the people and no one else. That's how it always has been and that's how it always will be."

Demonstrators also called for a follow-up protest during the hearing on Tuesday at the square situated next to the court.

On Sunday, Netanyahu told the High Court of Justice that it was "unthinkable" for the attorney general to decide "who can run the country and who can't." In a letter sent ahead of a possible decision on the matter, Netanyahu wrote that in a democracy, "those who decide who leads the people are the people, and no one else."

Netanyahu said on Saturday that should he request immunity, he would "not be avoiding trial."

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