Ten days before Israelis head to the polls, masses turn out in anti-Netanyahu rally in Tel Aviv. Latest polls put Zionist Camp ahead of Likud but it’s still unclear who can form a coalition.
Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally to demand a new government Saturday night in Rabin Square. Israel Police estimated that 40,000 people attended; the event’s organizers claimed more than 80,000 people showed up.
The rally was held under the banner, “Israel wants change,” and was being billed as an anti-Benjamin Netanyahu event.
Among the speakers scheduled to take part in the event were former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, Michal Kestan-Kedar ( the widow of a lieutenant-colonel who was killed in Operation Defensive Edge), a social justice activist, journalists and others.
In his speech, Dagan told the crowd that he is more scared of Israel’s leadership than its enemies. Saying that he wants neither a bi-national state nor an apartheid state, the former Mossad chief derided the current leadership for using fear and threats to present peace as unattainable.
“To those who say we don’t have any alternative, as somebody who worked directly with three prime ministers: there is a better alternative,” Dagan said.
“Just as there are unavoidable wars there are also unavoidable elections,” the visibly ill former Mossad chief said, describing the upcoming elections as an emergency call-up that Israel cannot ignore.
Former Israeli general Amiram Levine also addressed the crowd, stressing the importance of the Arab Peace Initiative. Addressing Israeli settlers in the West Bank, Amiram argued that peace “is the only way to preserve the settlement project, the settlement blocs and to hold on to the Golan Heights.”
Both men used the word “apartheid” in their warnings of the direction Israel is headed.
The event comes 10 days before Israelis head to the polls with no clear winner predicted. Labor and Tzipi Livni’s “Zionist Camp” is showing as the largest party in most polls, although Netanyahu’s Likud is not far behind.
Behind the Zionist Camp (23) and Likud (21), the Joint List of Arab parties grew in the most recent polls to up to 15 seats, according to aggregate polling Project 61.
Netanyahu has ruled out the possibility of forming a unity government with the Zionist Camp, leaving two possible coalitions: a far-right government that includes one or two of the centrist parties and the ultra-Orthodox; and, a center-left government that includes the centrist parties and the ultra-Orthodox, with the support of the Joint List from the opposition.