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Tel Aviv Throng Urges Israel to Reject Netanyahu

People shout slogans during a rally in Tel Aviv's Rabin Square, calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to be replaced in upcoming national elections, March 7, 2015.

Tens of thousands packed a Tel Aviv square Saturday calling for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to lose the March 17 parliamentary election.

The protesters stood under a huge banner reading "Israel Wants Change."

Meir Dagan, the former chief of Israel's intelligence agency, Mossad, gave the keynote speech. He said Israel was suffering from a leadership crisis that he said scared him more than Israel's enemies.

"Benjamin Netanyahu has served as prime minister for six consecutive years,. During that time, Israel has never been more stuck," Dagan said. "During these six years, he hasn't led one sincere incentive to foment change in the region or to craft a better future."

Opinion polls show Netanyahu's conservative Likud party nearly tied with the left-leaning Zionist Union. But Likud said it would have enough allies in parliament to be able to form a coalition and keep Netanyahu in office.

Netanyahu made a controversial visit to Washington last week, where he addressed the U.S. Congress and called a possible nuclear agreement with Iran a "bad deal."

Some Israelis have criticized the prime minister for not working harder for a peace deal with the Palestinians.

But Netanyahu has said he will not negotiate with a government that includes Hamas militants, who refuse to recognize Israel's right to exist.