‘Your time is up’: Thousands protest against Netanyahu over economy, corruption allegations

Israeli protesters wave national flags and chant slogans against the government near the prime minister's residence in Jerusalem on August 6, 2020. (AFP)
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Updated 08 August 2020

‘Your time is up’: Thousands protest against Netanyahu over economy, corruption allegations

  • Demonstrators waved Israeli flags and called on Netanyahu to resign over what they say is his failure to protect jobs and businesses affected by the pandemic
  • The protest movement has intensified in recent weeks, with critics accusing Netanyahu of being distracted by a corruption case against him, in which he denies wrongdoing

JERUSALEM: Thousands of Israelis rallied outside Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s residence in Jerusalem on Saturday as anger mounted over corruption allegations and his handling of the coronavirus crisis.
“Your time is up,” read the giant letters projected onto a building at the protest site, as demonstrators waved Israeli flags and called on Netanyahu to resign over what they say is his failure to protect jobs and businesses affected by the pandemic.
The protest movement has intensified in recent weeks, with critics accusing Netanyahu of being distracted by a corruption case against him, in which he denies wrongdoing.
The right-wing leader, who was sworn in for a fifth term in May after a closely-fought election, has accused the protesters of trampling democracy and the Israeli media of encouraging dissent.
Protests have stretched beyond Netanyahu’s official residence in Jerusalem, with many Israelis gathering on bridges and highway junctions across the country.
On a busy highway overpass north of Israel’s commercial hub of Tel Aviv, demonstrators waved black flags and chanted slogans while cars honked their horns from the road below.
One protester, Yael, said she had lost her job at a Tel Aviv restaurant and that government aid has been slow to come.
“You’d think that a once-in-a-lifetime crisis like this would push Netanyahu to act, and it hasn’t. Enough is enough,” she said, declining to give her last name.
Israel in May lifted a partial lockdown that had flattened an infection curve. But a second surge of COVID-19 cases and ensuing restrictions has seen Netanyahu’s approval ratings plunge to under 30%.
Many restrictions have since been lifted to revive business activity, but unemployment hovers at 21.5% and the economy is expected to contract by 6% in 2020.


US says ‘can’t tolerate’ attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq

Updated 10 min 59 sec ago

US says ‘can’t tolerate’ attacks by Iranian-backed militias in Iraq

  • Iraq has long been caught in a tug-of-war between its allies Iran and the US
  • Iraq said Monday it was “not happy” with the reported American pullout threat

WASHINGTON: The US administration warned Thursday that it would not tolerate attacks on American interests in Iraq by Iran-backed militias, as Baghdad worries about a possible US withdrawal.

“We can’t tolerate the threats to our people, our men and women serving abroad,” David Schenker, assistant secretary of state, for near Eastern affairs, told reporters.

Schenker did not confirm or deny a reported US threat to withdraw its troop and close its embassy in Baghdad unless the attacks against them stop.

“We are working, and we look forward to continuing to work with our Iraqi partners to keep our personnel and our facility safe,” he said.

Also on Thursday, the US envoy on Iran Elliott Abrams said Tehran was the “main engine of violence” in the Middle East and remained one of the main sponsors of global terrorism.

Several political and diplomatic sources have told AFP that US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo issued an ultimatum last week that all US personnel would leave Iraq unless the government puts a stop to a rash of attacks against them.

On Monday a wayward rocket targeting American troops killed seven civilians near Baghdad — one of around 40 attacks targeting US interests since early August.

Iraq said Monday it was “not happy” with the reported pullout threat.

A US withdrawal could lead to further pullouts by members of the US-led coalition fighting holdout extremists, which would be “dangerous, because the Daesh group threatens not only Iraq but the whole region,” Iraqi Foreign Minister Fuad Hussein said.

Iraq has long been caught in a tug-of-war between its allies Iran and the US, rendered rockier by Washington’s “maximum pressure” policy against Tehran since 2018.

On Wednesday evening several rockets fell in Iraq’s autonomous Kurdish region in the environs of a base used by the Democratic Party of Iranian Kurdistan, a commander for that group said.

Kurdish Iraqi authorities pinned the blame on the Hashed Al-Shaabi, an Iraqi state-sponsored paramilitary network dominated by pro-Iran forces.

“The single biggest problem in Iraq is the Iranian-backed militias that are undermining stability there, and attacking the United States,” Schenker said.

“The arms are not under the control of the central government. Groups continue to launch rockets at our embassy, attack Americans,” he said.