Hundreds of demonstrators belonging to the “Black Flag” movement drove on Saturday, March 28, to the homes of several MKs from Benny Gantz’s Israel Resilience party to protest his unanticipated decision Thursday, March 26, to join a far-right “unity government” under racist Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. A unity deal between the racist Likud and Israel Resilience is currently in its advanced stages of negotiations between Netanyahu and Gantz.
Gantz’s decision precipitated the breakup of the Blue & White alliance which was formed towards the April 2019 elections for the 21st Knesset between Gantz’s Israel Resilience, Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid and Moshe Ya’alon’s Telem, and which Gantz had led for more than a year in three national elections.
The “Black Flag” movement’s name is derived from how its members often choose to call the public’s attention to the “danger to Israeli democracy.” On Saturday, the demonstrators largely remained inside their cars to adhere to social distancing directives aimed at preventing the spread of COVID-19. “We came out to fight for democracy and we will continue to do so,” organizers said in a statement.
The convoy of demonstrators first arrived at the home of MK Ram Shefa in Kibbutz Givat Haim in central Israel. From there they headed to the homes of MKs Miki Haimovich, Avi Nissenkorn, Meirav Cohen, Michael Biton, Asaf Zamir and Yizhar Shai.
Protests were first held outside the Knesset in Jerusalem earlier this month, when hundreds of cars drove along Route 1 from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem and rallied outside the Israeli parliament to protest against the far-right government and, in particular, former Knesset speaker, Yuli Edelstein. In the past two weeks, Edelstein used his authority as speaker to refuse allowing the Knesset to vote on setting up parliamentary oversight of the government’s far-reaching measures to tackle the viral outbreak; he also frustrated the scheduling of a vote to elect his replacement as speaker. Edelstein’s unbending belligerence led to accusations by activists and Joint List lawmakers that the government was attempting an illegal, undemocratic power grab.
The “Black Flag” protesters also demand that the MKs from Israel Resilience continue to act against corruption and threats to democracy as members of the coalition being formed with Netanyahu and his right-wing supporters. However, MK Gadeer Kamal-Mreeh of Israel Resilience, a former journalist and the first Arab-Druze woman elected to the Knesset, vowed she would not join Gantz. “Leadership and honesty are measured in times of crisis. A leader does not betray his principles and voters,” she wrote. “I came to politics to replace the racist, divisive government of the Nation State Law, and not to be a partner in it.” “I will not serve one day under the corrupt man from Balfour,” she said, referring to the Prime Minister’s Residence in Jerusalem.
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