Middle east

As Netanyahu’s Trial Set to Resume in Jerusalem, Activist Says She’ll Back the PM No Matter What

Pro-Netanyahu supporters are expected to stage a rally in front of the District Court, where three judges will start hearing witnesses in the PM’s corruption cases.

The trial of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is set to resume in Jerusalem on Monday, where judges will start a round of hearings with witnesses in a series of graft probes that include buying positive press and receiving gifts from a rich donor, allegations that the PM denies.

Netanyahu Will Never Walk Alone

According to reports, the PM will show up at the district court and activists, who support the PM, are expected to arrive at Salah A-Ddin Street in Jerusalem at 8:30 a.m. local time to show Netanyahu that he will not “walk alone”. 

Ronit Levy, a well-known activist from Afula, in the north of the country, says she will need to take a bus as early as six in the morning to make it to the rally in support of the prime minister.

“This is my way of thanking the prime minister for all the good years he has given Israel. I am thankful to him for steering the country through the pandemic and for getting us the vaccines. I will support him until the end”.

It is so far unclear how many people will show up at the rally in favour of the PM. In the past, such demonstrations were relatively small and paled in comparison to the protests held against the PM, where crowds demanded Netanyahu step down for failing to tackle the acute health and economic crises facing the nation.

But Levy says this is nothing more than fake news circulated by the liberal circles to show that support for Netanyahu is insignificant.

“We refrained from staging rallies during the coronavirus pandemic but before that outbreak our demonstrations have always drawn thousands of people and that shows support for Netanyahu has not dwindled”.

One of the bigger rallies took place in November 2019 shortly after Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s annoucement that Netanyahu would be prosecuted. Back then, nearly 6,000 people arrived in the centre of Tel Aviv to express their support for the PM and vent their anger at the police, the media, and the judiciary, who they say were trying to “oust” their leader.

It won’t be any different this time and activists plan to chant the same slogans as they did before: in favour of Netanyahu and against those, who are trying to get him removed from power.

“They [liberal circles – ed.] have failed to displace him by democratic means [i.e. at the polling stations – ed.] and this is the reason why they are building cases against him and inventing stories but I want the prime minister to know that we are not going to let that happen. We want him to stay”, Levy says.

Coalition Mess

Levy is not alone. More than a million Israelis cast their ballots in favour of the PM and his party Likud in the nation’s fourth parliamentary elections on 23 March.

Likud managed to retain its title as Israel’s biggest party, but despite that achievement Netanyahu is still struggling to form a government.

Netanyahu will need to collect 61 signatures for him to be able to do so and remain in his seat. So far, he only has 52. As things now stand, the PM is counting on the hawkish party Yamina to provide him with the 7 more signatures needed. He is also planning to rely on the Islamic party Raam that received 4 spots in the Knesset but whose ideology doesn’t fit the conservative narrative of Likud.

Just like many other Israel citizens, Levy is watching the political developments closely. She is aware of the ongoing talks between Likud and Raam and dreads the possibility of Netanyahu joining forces with the Islamic party, whose members have been previously caught speaking out against Israel, the IDF, and its conduct in the West Bank and Gaza.

Yet, she is certain that Netanyahu will end up doing what’s good for the country. “Bibi should meet the demands of Abbas, who wants to improve the lives of Israel’s Arab citizens. But I am sure the PM will not sit down in one government with Raam”.

If Netanyahu fails to collect the signatures needed and no other candidate manages to do so either, Israel will end up heading to the polls for a fifth time. And Levy says she is prepared for that outcome too, vowing that her support for Netanyahu will remain unshakeable. 

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