Over 1,000 people demonstrated on Tuesday night near the Habima Theater in the center of Tel Aviv, against the deal struck between Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz. During the rally, which was organized by activists affiliated with last summer’s social protest and Hadash activists, police detained at least seven of the protesters on “suspicion of disturbing the peace”, among them two Communist Party of Israel Central Committee members: Tel Aviv city councilman Yoav Goldring and one of social protests leaders in the last summer, Alon-Lee Green. The police also arrested during the protest a Haaretz reporter and a photographer from Israel HaYom, both of whom were released shortly thereafter without charges.
Protesters demonstrating against the new Netanyahu government in Tel Aviv, among them: MK Dov Khenin – with a red Hadash banner, May 8, 2012 (Photo: Activestills.org)
Several public figures spoke to the crowd, among them MK Dov Khenin, former Kadima head Tzipi Livni, MK Isaac Herzog (Labor), MK Daniel Ben-Simon (Labor) and MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz). “Netanyahu and Mofaz speak of national responsibility, but in reality, they will bring us to national disaster,” said MK Khenin. He called to hold massive social protests against the government on next weekend. “In place of social justice, this government will keep going in the other direction,” he warned. “On the one side – deep cuts to social welfare in the 2013 budget, and on the other – dangerous plans for a regional war against Iran.”
The protest, which took place near where the 2011 summer protest began on Rothschild Boulevard, included waved flags, and chanted slogans such as “Bibi, go home.” Green, said the right-wing coalition deal was “one of worst slaps in the face ever to the Israeli public,” and decried the hypocrisy of Mofaz, who called Netanyahu a liar in the months before joining the coalition. Green, who was one of the main organizers of the summer’s mass social justice protests, said that before Monday he and others were planning to focus the upcoming summer’s protests on the elections previously set for September 4. However, in light of Monday night’s deal, they will focus on bringing people back to the streets with the message “that this government must go, they only survive on dirty tricks and they have to leave.”
A protest was also held in Be’er Sheva, where 150 demonstrators held signs and chanted slogans in the Merkaz Hamorim square on the Reger main street. Meanwhile in downtown Jerusalem, around 200 people gathered carrying Hadash signs that read “If the government is against the people, the people are against the government!” Like in Tel Aviv, protesters recycled many of the chants from last summer’s social protests, including calls for Netanyahu to resign.