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Israeli mass rally calls for replacement of Binyamin Netanyahu

Tuesday 10 March 2015, by siawi3


Israeli mass rally calls for replacement of Binyamin Netanyahu
Tens of thousands gather in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square in event led by former Mossad chief calling for prime minister to be replaced in forthcoming elections

Mairav Zonszein in Tel Aviv
Sunday 8 March 2015 17.49 GMT

Tens of thousands of Israelis attended a rally in Tel Aviv’s Rabin Square on Saturday evening to call for the prime minster, Binyamin Netanyahu, to be replaced in elections later this month.

Organised under the banner, “Israel wants change” and dubbed an “anti-Netanyahu” event, the rally was headlined by former Mossad chief Meir Dagan, who told the crowd Israel is facing the worst leadership crisis in its history.

“We have a leader who fights only one campaign — the campaign for his own political survival … I am not a politician and not a public figure, and I came here this evening without personal aspirations, not looking for a position and without a grudge or bitterness,” he said. “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. He and former Israeli general Amiram Levine, who also addressed the rally, both used the word “apartheid” to describe the direction Israel is headed, 972 Magazine reported.

Israel police estimated around 40,000 attended the rally, while the organisers claimed the number was closer to 80,000.

Michal Kestan-Kedar, the widow of a lieutenant-colonel killed in last summer’s war in Gaza, pleaded with Israelis to vote for a leader who would not send soldiers into another war. “Yes, Mr prime minister, what’s important is life itself, but it’s impossible to speak all the time about Iran and to turn a blind eye to the bloody conflict with the Palestinians which costs us so much blood,” she said on the stage.
There were signs at the rally calling for “Revolution Now”, as well as posters for the Meretz and Zionist Union slates. Opposition leader and Zionist Union head Isaac Herzog’s name was not mentioned at the rally, in line with campaign election law.

The rally was organised by One Million Hands, a pro-two state, ad-hoc campaign founded by three Israelis, whose mission is to replace Israel’s current government. “We concluded that Netanyahu, the Likud is the real obstacle. We have to remove the main obstacle,” Dror Ben Ami, one of the campaign’s founders, told the Guardian. He said the campaign were very pleased with the turnout and hoped it would translate into votes on 17 March. “The aim of the rally was to get people there, to have a show of strength, and invigorate the Israeli public watching at home. To motivate them to vote, to not be apathetic. To vote for change.”

One Million Hands has been conducting an online campaign since elections were called in December to get 1 million Israelis to sign a petition to oust Netanyahu. So far they have around 260,000.

The Likud wrote the rally off as part of the left’s campaign to depose Netanyahu. “The [rally’s] goal is to replace the Likud government led by Netanyahu with a left government headed by Tzipi and Buji that will have the support of the Arab party.”

The latest polls show Netanyahu’s Likud and the Zionist Union neck and neck.

On Saturday 14 March, a rightwing pro-Netanyahu rally is planned in the same location, just three days before the election.