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Tens of thousands of Israelis protest 'Netanyahu corruption' Open in fullscreen

The New Arab

Tens of thousands of Israelis protest 'Netanyahu corruption'

Netanyahu is currently being investigated over allegations of abuse of office [Getty]

Date of publication: 3 December, 2017

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Israel's largest anti-corruption demonstration saw tens of thousands of protesters take to the streets over a law critics say is designed to protect the prime minister from ongoing criminal investigations.

Nearly 20,000 Israelis protested in Tel Aviv against government corruption and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu on Saturday, in one of the country's largest anti-graft protests.

Netanyahu is currently being investigated over allegations of abuse of office.

The charges have seen weekly anti-corruption protests take place, with Saturday's demonstration the largest by far.

The Israeli prime minister has so far been questioned six times by detectives of the police national fraud and serious crimes squad over two suspected cases of corruption.

Netanyahu is suspected of having received luxury gifts from wealthy supporters, including Israeli businessman and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan, who has also been questioned.

Milchan, a long-time friend of Netanyahu, reportedly sent him boxes of expensive cigars and other items worth tens of thousands of dollars.

In addition to suspicions that the gifts constituted bribery, the police also suspect that he sought a secret pact for favourable coverage with the publisher of the top-selling Yediot Aharonot newspaper.

The alleged deal - not believed to have been finalised - would have seen Netanyahu receive favourable coverage in return for helping curb Yediot's competitor, the pro-Netanyahu freesheet Israel Hayom.

Saturday's protests were prompted by the passing of a draft bill that opponents of Prime Minister Netanyahu say is designed to help him survive the ongoing police investigation.

The law, if ratified, would bar police from publishing its findings to the public.

Netanyahu has consistently denied any wrongdoing and says he has been the target of a campaign by political opponents, openly criticising the media and "left-wing" groups.

Netanyahu has ramped up his hard-line rhetoric in the face of corruption allegations, attacking the media and giving speeches in West Bank settlements where he has vowed never to remove them.

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