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Thousands of Israelis protest proposed Netanyahu immunity bills Open in fullscreen

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Thousands of Israelis protest proposed Netanyahu immunity bills

Demonstrators say Netanyahu's incoming coalition is pushing for legislation to shield him from prosecution. [Getty]

Date of publication: 25 May, 2019

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Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday against proposed legislation granting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution on a series of corruption charges.

Tens of thousands of Israelis protested in Tel Aviv on Saturday against proposed legislation granting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution on a series of corruption charges.

The protesters gathered outside the Tel Aviv Museum of Art on Saturday and called for protecting Israel's democratic identity against government overreach.

The demonstrators say Netanyahu's incoming coalition is pushing for legislation to shield him from prosecution and is looking to restrict the power of the Supreme Court.

Yair Lapid of Israel's opposition Blue and White party compared Netanyahu's efforts to consolidate his power to Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan. Addressing Netanyahu, Lapid said: "We won't have a Turkish dictator. We won't allow it."

The protest was organised by the largest opposition party, Blue and White, together with Meretz and the Labor party.

Palestinian-Israeli lawmaker Ayman Odeh, chairman of the Hadash party, also spoke at the rally, after an earlier outcry over the organisers' failure to include non-Jewish speakers.

Netanyahu was elected to his fourth successive term as prime minister in April, two months after Israel's attorney general decided to indict him on corruption charges, pending a final hearing.

Israel's attorney general on Wednesday extended until October the deadline for Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's pre-trial hearing on corruption allegations, but rejected a request for a 12-month delay.

Even if he is charged, Netanyahu, 69, would not legally be forced to stand down until he had been convicted and had exhausted all avenues for appeal.

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