JERUSALEM (Reuters) – Nearly 20,000 Israelis demonstrated in Tel Aviv on Saturday against government corruption and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is under criminal investigation on allegations of abuse of power.
The demonstration was by far the largest of the weekly protests against corruption unleashed by accusations of corruption against Netanyahu, who denies any evil
It is suspected that the leader of four terms was involved in two cases. The first involves receiving gifts from wealthy entrepreneurs and the second involves negotiating a deal with the owner of a newspaper to obtain better coverage in exchange for limits to a rival newspaper.
Saturday's protest was prompted by a bill that is expected to be ratified by parliament next week, which would prevent the police from publishing their findings in two Netanyahu investigations.
A Reuters cameraman and Israeli media estimate that the number of protesters is approximately 20,000. The police did not provide an official estimate.
Critics say the bill is a blatant attempt to protect Netanyahu and keep the public in the dark about his investigation. Supporters of the legislation say it is meant to protect the rights of suspects.
Netanyahu has said he has no interest in promoting personal legislation, but has not ordered his two sponsors, intimate confidants in his Likud party, to withdraw the bill.
Netanyahu described himself as a victim of a political witch hunt and said of the cases against him: "There will be nothing because there is nothing".
If charged, he would be subjected to strong pressure to resign or he could call an election to prove if he still had a mandate.
Report of Rami Amichay; Written by Maayan Lubell; Edition by Richard Balmforth