Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu attends a Likud party meeting at parliament in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: REUTERS)
More than 3,000 people are expected to attend a mass rally on Wednesday night at the Tel Aviv Fairgrounds in support of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu amid his efforts to deal with multiple criminal investigations.
Buses will take people to the rally from Haifa, Netanya, Beersheba, Ashkelon and Ashdod. Netanyahu's Likud party will be spending between NIS 300,000 and NIS 500,000 on the rally, sparing no expense to put on a show of force.
The event was moved to a larger hall at the Fairgrounds to accommodate the expected crowd. It will be addressed by Netanyahu and coalition chairman David Bitan under the banner “We love Netanyahu and maintain democracy.”
All the Likud’s ministers and MKs are expected to attend the event, except for three who will be abroad. Former minister Gideon Sa’ar will also miss it due to a trip abroad.
Organizers said there was a 90% chance that Sara Netanyahu, the prime minister’s wife, will attend the rally, which would be her first in many years. She was a fixture and a fan favorite at such events when her husband first ran for prime minister in 1996.
Following reports that Netanyahu was angry with Transportation Minister Israel Katz for undermining him politically, the minister made a point of posting a picture of the two of them together on Twitter. Netanyahu and Katz spent the morning together, attending the opening of a new road to Beit Shemesh, they were then scheduled to attend a security cabinet meeting together, and then go together to the rally in Tel Aviv.
There is not expected to be a counter-demonstration outside the event, even though the Likud staged one near the weekly anti-corruption protest near the home of Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit in Petah Tikva last Saturday night.
The Petah Tikva protesters decided against reacting to the Tel Aviv rally in a meeting they held on Tuesday night.
“We don’t need to respond to them,” said Daphne Leef, one of the heads of the Petah Tikva protest movement, who was also a leader of the 2011 social justice protests. “We are against corruption, not the Right or the Left. We don’t need to fall in that trap.”
The Netanyahus’ former caretaker at the Prime Minister’s Residence, Meni Naftali, who is another leader of the weekly Petah Tikva protests, said he was not surprised the Likud decided to spend taxpayer money on such a rally. Bitan had expressed concern that Naftali would come and protest, but Naftali said he would not go anywhere near the event.
“People will be coming out of fear,” he said. “But I won’t be there. If I demonstrate all the time, when will I work?”