Around 2,000 people turned out Saturday night for a pro-government demonstration in Tel Aviv in a show of support for Prime Minister Naftali Bennett’s imperiled coalition.
The protesters at the Tel Aviv Port, in the northern part of the city, chanted, “The people trust the government,” and “We the majority came out into the street.”
They carried signs that said, “Yes to the unity government,” and “I’m proud of my prime minister.”
The demonstrators waved Israeli flags and called on Yamina lawmaker Nir Orbach, who quit the coalition last week, to “not give up and not break,” according to the Ynet news site.
Announcing his decision, Orbach said the coalition had failed, but that he would not vote to disperse the Knesset and initiate snap elections, and would instead work to form an alternative coalition within the existing Knesset.
Widespread reports in the past week have said Orbach was in negotiations with opposition leader Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party to join its ranks. Orbach has denied any talks with Likud.
“Thank you from the bottom of my heart,” Bennett said to the protesters on Twitter. “We are not breaking, and are not giving up on our country.”
תודה לכם מכל הלב.
אנחנו לא נשברים,
ולא מוותרים על המדינה שלנו ????????❤️ pic.twitter.com/ddVNk9iSkt
— Naftali Bennett בנט (@naftalibennett) June 18, 2022
Yamina lawmaker Matan Kahana tweeted a picture of the rally and applauded the demonstrators, who he said “believe in the existence of the government and appreciate all its achievements.”
Tamar Zandberg of the coalition’s left-wing Meretz party said, “Thank you to the protesters this evening who came out for government, for unity and change against an alternative of hate and incitement.”
Bennett’s coalition has been teetering for weeks, losing its majority and finding itself unable to pass even routine legislation as it appears headed for a collapse.
Orbach’s decision to leave dropped the coalition into the Knesset minority, two seats behind the divided but determined opposition. The opposition Likud party is reportedly preparing to bring a bill to disperse the Knesset and force fresh elections this week.