Israelis rally for Netanyahu in Tel Aviv. (Kobi Richter/TPS) Kobi Richter/TPS

Israelis gathered on Tuesday night in Tel Aviv to show support for the embattled prime minister as he faces corruption charges.

By TPS

Thousands of Israelis on Tuesday night congregated at Tel Aviv’s Museum Square to show their support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu after he was indicted for bribery, fraud, and breach of trust.

The main banner at the demonstration read “to safeguard the country and stop the coup,” and many held signs with slogans against the state prosecutors, including signs reading “investigate [State Attorney] Shai Nitzan,” “send prosecutor Liat Ben-Ari to jail” and “stop the persecution.”

Last week, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit charged Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust, making him the first prime minister in Israeli history to be indicted while in office.

Netanyahu rejected the charges and called the indictment an “attempted coup against the prime minister” and “selective enforcement on steroids.”

Despite attempts to attract broad support from right-wing politicians, the only Members of Knesset (MKs) who attended the rally were Culture and Sports Minister Miri Regev, Likud faction chairman Miki Zohar, and Likud MKs Ketty Shitrit and Shlomo Karey.

Netanyahu did not attend the rally.

Regev stated at the rally that only the public, and not the legal system, could elect a prime minister. “You have the strongest ammunition – your ballot,” she told demonstrators.

“This protest sends the message that the rule of law is not above the law. The law must be equal for all, and there cannot be one rule for one man and different rules for another,” Regev said, reiterating Netanyahu’s claim that his indictment constitutes selective enforcement by the state prosecutors.

Regev also urged the protesters to take down provocative signs which, in her opinion, went too far in criticism of the legal establishment, suggesting that the signs may have been “planted” by someone other than the demonstrators.

On Saturday, senior Likud MK Gideon Sa’ar called for a fast-tracked leadership race in the Likud party, challenging Netanyahu as Likud chairman, following his indictment. Sa’ar’s call for quick party primaries did not receive wide support in the party, and they are unlikely to take place in the coming weeks.

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