Tel Aviv – Two thirds (66 percent) of Israelis want their Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to resign if indicted for corruption and Likud party will come out ahead of any political party in elections if it was presided by another person, according to a poll by Channel 10 news published on Sunday.
Asked if they believed Netanyahu’s assertion of innocence of all the allegations against him, 51 percent said no, 27 percent said yes, and 22 percent said they didn’t know.
The investigations with Netanyahu revolve around suspicions of bribery, fraud and breach of trust according to the police.
The poll found that if elections were held now and Netanyahu remained the head of the Likud, his party would win 27 seats under his leadership. But if the Likud was led by one of its other leaders, like Gideon Sa’ar, Gilad Erdan, or Yisrael Katz the poll predicted it would win 31 seats.
The PM lashed out in front of his ministers for not supporting him in the face of all corruption reports and media. After criticism and threats from Coalition Chairman MK David Bitan, more and more of Likud’s senior ministers have begun defending their party leader in the media.
Bitan told Channel 2 News that there are ministers who only care about replacing Netanyahu, threatening: “we’ll settle the score with them in the primaries. The registered voters remember.”
Minister of Transportation and Intelligence Yisrael Katz put out a statement on his Facebook page in support of the prime minister.
“Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should be allowed to fulfill his duties in accordance with the mandate he received from the public, in a state of law and democratic rule, not to dismiss a prime minister based on media headlines, opposition demonstrations or partial investigative procedures,” he said.
Katz expressed his trust that the law enforcement system will carry out its work with the professionalism and responsibility required to enable Israel to continue to deal “adequately with the complex challenges it faces.”
Meanwhile, Culture Minister Miri Regev also rushed to Netayahu’s support, saying, “We’re all united under you.”
Speaking to Israel Radio, Regev said that the prime minister should not step down even if charges are brought against him. “When will they [the media] learn that the government is only replaced at the ballot box, not in the media or in an attempt to pressure the attorney general and the legal authorities,” she said.
Party expert Yossi Verter stated that Netayahu is highly supported by the far right and it is possible that many don’t believe what is being said in the media. While those who do believe the news reports about his corruption would still prefer to have Netanyah as PM as opposed to having a leftist candidate.
He added that both Gideon Sa’ar and Gilad Erdan are aware that if they want to replace Netayahu some day, they have to support him today because if they don’t do so, the people will not be kind to them.
Verter added that the far-right ministers will test to see, if admiration to Netanayhu was over, their support will vanish. But, if the PM continued to remain on top, they will all stand behind him like loyal guard dogs.