Anti-Netanyahu protesters claim ‘victory’ on eve of Israel vote

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Around 2,000 people demonstrated Saturday night outside the Jerusalem residence of Benjamin Netanyahu on the eve of a crucial vote in parliament that could end the reign of Israel’s longest-serving prime minister.

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Parliament is to vote on whether to install a “change” coalition government and end Netanyahu’s 12 consecutive years in power.

The anti-Netanyahu bloc includes parties from the right, the left and center as well as an Arab Islamic conservative party -- united by hostility to the rule of the premier known by his nickname Bibi.

To the tune of the Italian partisans’ Bella Ciao song, protesters belted out “Bibi Ciao” in celebration after nearly a year of rallies outside his home demanding his departure from office.

“For us, this is a big night and tomorrow will be even a bigger day. I am almost crying. We fought peacefully for this and the day has come,” said protester Ofir Robinski.

“Netanyahu only tried to divide us and set each part of society against the other. But tomorrow we’ll be united: right, left, Jews and Arabs.”

Protesters blew vuvuzelas or beat drums, while some wore T-shirt that read in Hebrew: “Bibi Lekh” (get out).

“We are about to be done with a dark era for Israel,” said Ram Shamir.

Another protester, Gali Israel Tal, 62, was also optimistic that the Knesset vote on Sunday would spell Netanyahu’s political demise.

“This is our last Saturday here. We won. Tomorrow the Knesset will vote and this prime minister will go. It is good. He will go,” she said.

Anti-Netanyahu protests have been staged each Saturday since July last year to denounce his handling of the Covid-19 pandemic and the economy.

Protesters have condemned Netanyahu who became the first sitting Israeli prime minister indicted while in office, and is on trial for corruption.

He is accused of accepting improper gifts and seeking to trade regulatory favors with media moguls in exchange for positive coverage -- allegations which he denies.

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