Thousands took to the streets of Tel Aviv to protest corruption following the release of tapes of Benjamin Netanyahu’s son discussing “awesome deals” his father allegedly made for his pal’s gas mogul dad.
Earlier this week, Israeli television aired embarrassing recordings of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s 26-year-old son Yair hanging out at a Tel Aviv strip club in 2015. He was joined by two friends, Nir Maimon, the son of natural gas tycoon Kobi Maimon, and Roman Abramov, an employee of Australian gambling tycoon James Packer, and was accompanied by his security guard and a driver.
Yair Netanyahu suggested arranging a meeting with a prostitute for his friends. The “service” would require 400 shekels ($116), which, Abramov suggested, Maimon should lend to the PM’s son. “Bro, you have to spot me. My dad made an awesome deal for your dad, bro. He fought, fought in the Knesset for this, bro,” Yair Netanyahu said, as quoted by the Times of Israel.
“Bro, my dad now arranged a $20 billion show for you and you can’t spot me 400 shekel?” Yair said, reportedly referring to the controversial deal over the Tamar and Leviathan offshore gas fields, the former being partially controlled by Kobi Maimon. Under the deal, the operation was shielded from anti-monopoly regulations and from possible changes in taxation or ownership structure, with the stated goal of stalling production. Critics blamed the arrangement for a rise in gas prices, saying it created a de facto gas duopoly in Israel.
With Netanyahu facing growing pressure over allegations of corruption, the recordings added insult to injury for the Israeli prime minister, coming at a time when anti-corruption protests were already in full swing across the country.
On Saturday night, thousands of protesters marched through central Tel Aviv, pausing outside the home of Kobi Maimon. They called on the Israeli prime minister to step down, chanting “Shame,” “Corporate power, organized crime,” and “Bibi go home!”
“I want to have a civilized state and not one where twice a week the prime minister is investigated by the police,” one protester told Ruptly.
“I think it is very important to come here; it is maybe the only thing that can make a change here in the country – that we can have a prime minister for everyone,” another said.
Minor scuffles broke out between the demonstrators and a group of right-wing supporters of the government, and police had to separate the two opposing groups.
Benjamin Netanyahu is facing myriad corruption allegations, with two separate cases being investigated by the police. Mass protests against the prime minister have been held for the last seven weekends.