Israeli protesters look for inspiration in in Biden victory
JERUSALEM (AP) — Several thousand Israelis on Saturday attended the weekly demonstration against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in Jerusalem, with some participants expressing hope that Joe Biden’s victory in the U.S. presidential race would bring changes in Israel as well.
The protesters have been gathering outside Netanyahu’s official residence for over four months, calling on him to resign for his handling of the coronavirus crisis and his ongoing trial on corruption charges.
Netanyahu is one of Trump’s closest allies on the international stage, and some protesters hoped that Trump’s defeat would spell trouble for the Israeli leader as well. “Trump Down, Bibi to go,” read one banner, using Netanyahu’s nickname. “Netanyahu, You’re Next,” read another.
Despite his stated commitment to bipartisan ties with the U.S., Israel’s closest and most important ally, Netanyahu has frequently been seen as siding with the Republicans.
After taking office, Trump unilaterally withdrew the U.S. from Iran’s nuclear deal with world powers, winning praise from Netanyahu. Trump also delivered a series of additional diplomatic gifts to Netanyahu, including his recognition of contested Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. That step, along with moving the U.S. Embassy to Jerusalem, led the Palestinians to sever ties with the U.S.
Biden has said he will not move the embassy back to Tel Aviv, but has signaled he will take a more even-handed approach toward Iran and the Palestinians.
“I feel that to truly make progress with the peace and negotiation with the Palestinians, which is the most important path of peace, we need a United States that’s more neutral, that’s more a bridge between us and the Palestinians,” said protester Shani Weissman.
In the West Bank, senior Palestine Liberation Organization official Hanan Ashrawi tweeted “America Detrumped!”
“The world also needs to be able to breathe,” she added.
In Tel Aviv, meanwhile, thousands of people attended a memorial service marking the 25th anniversary of the assassination of the late Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Rabin was gunned down by a Jewish ultranationalist opposed to his peacemaking with the Palestinians.