Israeli Protesters Press on Against PM Netanyahu

Israeli Protesters Press on Against PM Netanyahu

JERUSALEM (AP) -- Thousands of Israelis protested again Saturday against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, demanding that the long-serving leader resign over corruption charges against him and for allegedly mishandling the coronavirus crisis.

Holding signs reading “Go” and “Everyone is equal before the law," the demonstrators crowded a Jerusalem square near Netanyahu's official residence, where they have gathered for months to call for his resignation.

Netanyahu is charged with fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes in three cases involving billionaire associates and media moguls. He denies wrongdoing.

But the protesters say Netanyahu cannot properly lead the country while under indictment for corruption. His trial is set to begin evidentiary hearings in the coming weeks.

Israel is set to hold its fourth national election in two years in March, what will likely be another referendum against Netanyahu as he faces a challenge from defectors within his Likud Party.

The protesters also say Netanyahu and his government have bungled the coronavirus response. The country has seen its economy hit hard by virus restrictions throughout the year and is again under a nationwide if partial lockdown amid surging infection rates.

Netanyahu and his allies have used Israel's widespread vaccination drive, in which more than a tenth of its population has been immunized, to try to undercut the protesters and their cause. They claim Netanyahu is working to end Israel's coronavirus outbreak while they just hold demonstrations.