Israel: Dream of the end of the Bibi era

Israel: Dream of the end of the Bibi era

Corruption, corona, economic hardships: protests with different motivations are culminating in Israel. Your goal is the same: Benjamin Netanyahu.

The oppressed Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised the Israelis in a television speech last Wednesday evening. According to Netanyahu’s plan, the Israelis will receive a one-off payment of between $200 and $550, depending on the size of the household, and thus boost the economy again. The announcement, which has not yet been approved by the government, comes after nationwide protests in the middle of the second wave of the coronavirus.

Drastic measures had resulted in the first wave in Israel flattening quickly and in mid-May the number of new infections was only 10-20 new infections per day. But the abrupt and almost complete opening caused a second wave that only seems to be picking up speed. On Wednesday, more than 1,700 newly infected people were reported within 24 hours.

The despair of many Israelis about their economic situation and the anger at the prime minister accused of corruption and the erosion of democracy that many Israelis are observing are now fueling each other.

On Tuesday evening, thousands protested outside the Israeli Prime Minister’s residence in central Jerusalem, demanding Netanyahu’s resignation. The same night there were clashes between demonstrators and the police in downtown Jerusalem. Several hundred demonstrators blocked the Jerusalem tram. The police used water cannons and rode the blockade on horses. According to the daily Haaretz, there were 50 arrests. Three days earlier, last Saturday evening, more than ten thousand protested on Rabinplatz in Tel Aviv against government fiscal policy in the face of the economic crisis in which the country is facing.

The country’s social workers are also on strike, now in the second week. The corona crisis has created even greater congestion, and they are demanding more pay and more people in the social sector. The nurses also complain about the lack of staff and threaten to strike. For several nights in a row, various ultra-Orthodox groups in Jerusalem and other cities have rioted in the past week, protesting corona measures and the closure of yeshivot, religious schools. The Black Flag movement, which has campaigned for democracy and corruption, has been picking up speed for a few weeks now. Every Saturday they protest at numerous central crossroads in the country against the accused prime minister.

If Netanyahu was able to shine with a supposed corona success story in survey values in mid-June, he is now losing more and more backing, even among those who actually stood by his side. Survey values show that only 29 percent of Israelis trust Netanyahu. In March it was 63 percent.

Many Israelis are now hoping that the end of the Netanyahu era will begin. Gayil Talshir, a professor of political science at the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, looks back to categorize the situation and draws a parallel to the tent protests on Rothschild Boulevard in 2011 when hundreds of thousands protested the rising cost of living.

“We have not yet arrived with this crowd of protesters, and it did not mean the end of Netanyahu at that time.” But the public now sees how Netanyahu is taking care of his own financial situation and his trial in three corruption cases and not those Millions of unemployed and those suffering from the economic crisis. “The face of these protests is Netanyahu, so the protests may not be the last coffin nail in his political career, but they are a nail.”

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