Israel PM Benjamin Netanyahu jeered by protesters as arrives at Downing Street for talks with Rishi Sunak


Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu faced noisy protests as he arrived at Downing Street in opposition to his domestic legal overhaul, which critics argue threatens a move to dictatorship.

Mr Netanyahu shook hands with his UK counterpart Rishi Sunak outside Number 10 after running the gauntlet of hundreds of demonstrators concerned at controversial judicial changes back home.

His office said he expects to focus on “the Iranian issue” with the UK prime minister, seeking to form “a united international front against Iran in order to stop its nuclear programme”.

“The two are also expected to discuss strengthening the strategic ties between Israel and the United Kingdom and increasing security and intelligence co-operation,” a statement said.

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He will also meet Home Secretary Suella Braverman to discuss dealing with “global terrorism”, it added.

But his visit to Britain threatens to be overshadowed by the controversy in Israel, which has sparked mass protests across the country.

Mr Netanyahu had delayed his departure to Britain to deal with the political crisis.

Britain's Prime Minister Rishi Sunak, left, welcomes Israel Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Downing Street in London, Friday, March 24, 2023.(AP Photo/Alberto Pezzali)
The Israeli leader is holding talks with Rishi Sunak at Number 10. Pic: AP

Pro-democracy protesters outside Downing Street waving Israeli flags and placards stating their aim of “saving Israeli democracy”, could be heard shouting “shame” in Hebrew and chanting: “Netanyahu go to jail, you can’t speak for Israel”.

One sign branded Mr Netanyahu a “dictator on the run”.

Mr Netanyahu’s right-wing nationalist coalition has approved legislation that would protect him from being deemed unfit to rule.

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Is Israel facing a constitutional crisis?

Opponents argue the law is tailor-made to protect the leader from corruption charges.

After a series of scandals involving wealthy associates, Mr Netanyahu is on trial for fraud, breach of trust and accepting bribes.

He denies any wrongdoing.

Other reforms being pursued include giving the Jerusalem government sway in choosing judges and curbing the Supreme Court’s power to strike down laws.

Supporters have said the plan would rein in judicial overreach and restore balance between the branches of government.

But critics believe it would weaken the courts, threaten civil liberties and harm the economy.


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