TEL AVIV – Sixty-six percent of Israelis believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should step down if indicted on charges of corruption, a new poll published on Sunday found.
According to a Channel 10 news survey of 751 respondents, only 21% said Netanyahu should not resign while 13% remain undecided. Over half of those polled (51%) say they don’t believe the prime minister’s statements that he is not guilty of any wrongdoing while 27% said they do believe him and 22% said they didn’t know.
According to the poll, former Likud minister Gideon Sa’ar would be the most likely candidate to lead the Likud party, which he recently rejoined. In the event of a general election, Likud would lead with 27 seats, followed by the opposition Zionist Union with 22, 18 for Yesh Atid, 11 for the Joint (Arab) List, nine for Jewish Home, eight for Yisrael Beytenu, seven for Kulanu and United Torah Judaism, six for Shas and five for Meretz.
Were Netanyahu to step down, Likud’s numbers would grow to 31 seats.
The survey comes on the heels of Netanyahu’s former Chief-of-Staff Ari Harow signing a deal to turn state’s witness. The former aide reportedly “incriminated” Netanyahu in the case involving Israeli daily Yedioth Ahronoth‘s publisher Arnon Mozes that would have seen Mozes receive favors that possibly extend to Knesset legislation against the rival Israel Hayom newspaper in return for positive coverage.
The other allegation charges Netanyahu and his wife Sara of accepting illegal gifts – most notably cigars and champagne worth hundreds of thousands of shekels – from billionaire supporters.
Israeli police said on Thursday that the two cases against the prime minister include charges of “bribery, fraud and breach of trust.”
Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked said last week that even if indicted the prime minister would not be forced to resign.
“If we arrive at a situation in which an indictment is served, the coalition parties will sit down and consider what to do,” she said.
Nevertheless, several opposition leaders on Saturday called for the prime minister to step down.
“We no longer have any expectations of Netanyahu,” Channel 10 quoted Labor party chief Avi Gabbay saying. “This is no longer a matter of right or left but leaders that look out for the citizens.”