avatar by Benjamin Kerstein
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu gives a statement to the media in Tel Aviv, Feb. 21, 2019. Photo: Reuters / Ammar Awad / File.
A new poll taken after Israel’s attorney general announced that he will indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on corruption charges shows that Netanyahu would not be able to form a right-wing government if elections were held today, and that 68 percent of the Israeli public wants him to resign now or after he is formally indicted.
The announcement of intent to indict was made on Thursday and charged Netanyahu with bribery, fraud, and breach of trust in corruption cases dealing with gifts from supporters and alleged media collusion to give the prime minister favorable coverage in return for political and regulatory favors.
Netanyahu responded to the announcement with a combative speech in which he declared the investigation a left-wing witch hunt intended to aid the election of his primary rivals — the Blue and White party led by ex-IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz and Yesh Atid chairman Yair Lapid.
According to the poll published by Israeli broadcaster Kan, the announcement has weakened Netanyahu’s Likud and boosted Blue and White. If the elections were held today, Blue and White would receive 37 seats and Likud 29.
The right-wing New Right party would receive seven seats, as would the Haredi party Yehadut Ha’Torah and the Arab bloc Hadash-Ta’al. The left-wing parties Labour and Meretz would receive six seats respectively, as would Haredi party Shas. Centrist party Kulanu, the national religious bloc Union of Right-Wing Parties, and leftist Arab bloc Balad-Raam would all receive five. Three right-wing parties would not garner enough votes to enter the Knesset – Gesher, Yisrael Beiteinu, and Zehut.
These results render Netanyahu unable to put together the type of narrow right-wing coalition he has preferred in the past, and make it very likely that Blue and White would receive enough recommendations from the smaller parties to be called on by the president to form a government.
The poll revealed more bad news for Netanyahu: 36 percent of respondents said he should resign immediately, while 32 percent felt he should do so after the indictments are officially issued. Only 23 percent said he should continue in office and eight percent said they didn’t know.
Those surveyed were also asked whether they believe Netanyahu’s claim that the attorney general made his decision due to pressure from the left and the media — 59 percent said the attorney general acted from professional considerations, while 42 percent agreed with Netanyahu.
Elections will be held on April 9.
The Algemeiner (c) 2018 . Benjamin Kerstein