A majority of the public, including a majority of right-wing and religious people, opposes legislative efforts to protect Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu from prosecution in three criminal cases in which he faces charges, a Channel 13 poll showed Monday,
Asked for their opinion on legislation to grant the premier immunity, 66 percent of the public said they were opposed, 19% were in favor, 11% were undecided and 4% said they were unaware of such efforts.
Meanwhile among the right-wing and religious public, 44% were opposed, 32% were in favor, 20% were undecided and 4% were unaware.
In February Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced his intention to indict Netanyahu, pending a hearing, in three corruption cases. Netanyahu could face indictment for fraud and breach of trust in three criminal cases, and bribery in one of them. The prime minister denies all the allegations and has claimed he is the subject of a political witch hunt by prosecutors, the police, and the media.
Following the April 9 elections, Netanyahu has been trying to form a government with various right-wing parties and media reports have said the proposed coalition agreement includes stipulations to back changes in immunity laws for MKs in a way which could prevent Mandelblit from being able to file indictments against the prime minister.
In addition to changing the immunity law, the coalition agreements is said to include an “override clause” demanding backing for legislation which would neuter the Supreme Court by reversing its right to overturn parliamentary legislation and decisions it regards as unconstitutional.
Some in Netanyahu’s party have argued that immunity legislation is justified, claiming the election results showed that the people do not view the premier’s alleged transgressions as enough to prevent him from serving as premier.
The debate over immunity legislation could be rendered moot, at least for the time being, if Netanyahu cannot solve a coalition-building crisis that threatens to send the country to new elections.
Netanyahu has yet to ink a deal with any of his prospective partners, and progress has stalled amid an impasse between the secular Yisrael Beytenu party and ultra-Orthodox parties on the question of a bill regulating the military draft among the ultra-Orthodox.
With Wednesday night’s deadline to secure a 61-MK coalition fast approaching, legislators on Monday night moved a step closer towards dissolving the Knesset less than a month since it was sworn in, with MKs approving in its first reading a bill to disband the legislature.
Channel 13 also polled the public on who bore responsibility for another potential vote, with 41% saying Netanyahu would be mostly to blame, 27% blaming Yisrael Beytenu’s Avigdor Liberman, 16% blaming ultra-Orthodox parties and 16% saying they didn’t know.
The poll was held among Israeli 710 respondents by Statnet, with a margin of error of 3.8%.