New Election Looming? Tweeps Divided Over Attitude Towards Netanyahu Amid Anti-Government Protests

© AFP 2022 / MENAHEM KAHANAProtesters chant slogans during a demonstration of thousands against the Israeli government near the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem on August 2, 2020.
Protesters chant slogans during a demonstration of thousands against the Israeli government near the Prime Minister's residence in Jerusalem on August 2, 2020. - Sputnik International
A wave of anti-government protests sweeping Israel has also left a mark on social media platforms, where users have been debating their attitude towards the prime minister. While some have been calling for Netanyahu's resignation, others say they'd stand by him and urging to hold another round of elections.

Thousands of people took to the streets, intersections, and bridges across Israel on Saturday protesting against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, calling on him to resign.

Many of them also gathered in front of his official residence in Jerusalem urging "the culprit from Balfour" to relinquish power. Twelve people were arrested during the protests.

Dissatisfied Masses

Protests of this sort have become an almost daily occurrence in Israel, triggered by the raging coronavirus pandemic that has already claimed the lives of more than 500 Israelis.

Decrying the authorities for their "illogical decisions", meagre financial assistance, and the bureaucracy surrounding it, many used the protests to show their dissatisfaction with a government that was formed to tackle the pandemic but so far has failed to deliver on that promise.

According to a recent poll, more than 60 percent of Israelis are "not happy" with the way Netanyahu's government has been tackling the economic crisis caused by the pandemic which has pushed the country's unemployment rates to unprecedented heights.

The same survey found that 49 percent were dissatisfied with the handling of the health crisis, with 46 percent expressing opposing views.

However, for many the social-economic protests have become fertile ground for spreading anti-Netanyahu sentiment. Such is the case with the so-called Black Flag movement. The group claims to be fighting for Israel's democracy and says that a person charged with fraud, corruption, and breach of trust cannot remain at the helm of the country.

Similar slogans have also been tossed around on the social media platforms, with Tweeps divided over their attitude towards the PM and the government he heads.

War of Words on Social Media

There too, many are calling for his resignation, claiming the PM has failed the country.

"Bibi go home! Bibi go home! Is that clear enough?", one user asked.
"There are those protesting against economic hardships. Others are speaking out against the way he tackles COVID-19, or against [Netanyahu's] corruption charges, the submarine affair or the stock exchange. Some protest because they were against his plan to annex [parts of the West Bank - ed.], others protest because he ended up backtracking on that initiative...but everyone agrees... Bibi should go home".

​But for many Twitter users these comments and protests crossed a red line.

"You are a bunch of anarchists", wrote a user referring to numerous incidents of protesters clashing with police forces and attacking those staging rallies in support of the prime minister. "You betrayed our country at a time of a war (pandemic). May you be cursed. If it turns out that you contributed to the spread of the pandemic, we will square accounts with you", he continued.

​Others tried to downplay the significance of these protests.

"Slightly over 10,000 protesters in Jerusalem. About two thousand in Tel Aviv. And some spots in 300 places across Israel. If this is all the left-wing camp can bring failed. Keep on protesting as much as you want. But don't use violence".

And there were also those who threatened to settle the score with "the anarchists" at the polling stations.

​"Watch out, anarchists. The answer is in the 4th round", a Twitter user wrote.

Israel heading to the polls yet again in a fourth general election in under two years, a far-off scenario until not long ago, is now gaining steam.

While cracks in the coalition have been observed in the past, over Netanyahu's plan to apply Israeli law in parts of the West Bank and tackling the pandemic, disagreements over the nation's budget could be the final nail in the coffin for an already fragile partnership.

On Sunday, Netanyahu was supposed to bring a one-year budget to a vote in the Knesset, but Benny Gantz's Blue and White party, who is pushing for a two-year plan, announced it would boycott the move, forcing the PM to backtrack.

Now the PM has until 24 August to come to terms with his coalition partners, otherwise the Knesset will dissolve itself and Israel will once again head to the polls in an endeavour that will cost the country more than a billion dollars.

And while a recent survey predicts a drop in the number of seats that Netanyahu's Likud will get, falling from 36 to 33, the PM's supporters remain optimistic.

"We don't have any other choice. Elections. And we will win it. We make the majority".
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