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Israelis protest proposed Netanyahu immunity bills

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's office in Jerusalem, Sunday, May 19, 2019. (AP Photo/Ariel Schalit, Pool)

TEL AVIV, Israel (AP) — Tens of thousands of Israelis gathered in the central city of Tel Aviv Saturday, protesting proposed legislation granting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution on a series of corruption charges.

The protesters outside the city’s Museum of Art also called for protecting Israel’s democratic identity against government overreach.

The rally was a show of force by the new opposition parties a month after Netanyahu was re-elected to his fourth successive term as prime minister.

Yair Lapid of Israel’s Blue and White party compared Netanyahu’s efforts to consolidate his power to Turkey’s authoritarian President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“We won’t let you be Erdogan. We won’t have a Turkish dictator. We won’t allow it,” Laid said, addressing Netanyahu.

Some demonstrators wore Ottoman-style fez hats, a reference to Turkey, and waved Israeli flags and banners calling for “keeping Israel free.”

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. Netanyahu is in the final stages of forming a new coalition government.

“We are not your subjects. We won’t let you destroy the Supreme Court. You are not above the law,” Lapid told the crowds.

In February, Israel’s attorney general decided to indict Netanyahu on corruption charges, pending a final hearing.

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