Protesters rally in Israel against Netanyahu-Gantz coalition

In Tel Aviv, 1,500 hold socially-distant gathering to protest unity government.


PM Netanyahu and MK Gantz
PM Netanyahu and MK Gantz
Tomer Neuberg/Flash90

Hundreds of Israelis demonstrated Saturday against a coalition government agreed between Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his former election rival Benny Gantz as the top court was due
to examine the deal.

The Supreme Court was to meet for two days from Sunday to consider whether to block the agreement on the basis of eight separate petitions arguing that the deal was illegal.

The case could force another election in Israel where Netanyahu, a right-wing premier in power since 2009, and the centrist ex-military chief Gantz, have already faced off in three inconclusive elections in less than a year.

Late Saturday around 1,500 people rallied in Tel Aviv to protest against the coalition government but maintained the rules of social distancing in force to fight the spread of the novel coronavirus, an AFP reporter witnessed.

They held up signs that read: "36 cabinet ministers. Shame on you."

It was the latest in a series of Saturday night protests against a unity government between Netanyahu and Gantz, who is currently the speaker of parliament.

After failing to form a viable governing coalition in Israel's divided 120-seat parliament, the two leaders agreed last month to a power-sharing deal aiming to avert a fourth election.

The deal will see Netanyahu serve as prime minister for the first half of a three-year term as he faces trial on corruption charges, which he denies, with Gantz taking on the premiership in October next year.

Netanyahu was in January formally charged with bribery, fraud and breach of trust, becoming the first Israeli premier ever indicted in office.

His trial was due to open in March but has been postponed until May 24.