Poll: Most Israelis want Netanyahu to resign if police recommend indictment
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Poll: Most Israelis want Netanyahu to resign if police recommend indictment

TV survey come as investigators wrap up two probes into prime minister and prepare their summaries for the prosecution

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu leads the weekly cabinet meeting at the Prime Minister's Office in Jerusalem, December 17, 2017. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

A majority of Israelis think that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu should resign if police recommend that he be indicted in the corruption investigations against him, a poll released Saturday found.

According to the poll, published by Hadashot TV news, 60 percent of Israelis said Netanyahu should resign if police were to recommend bribery charges. Twenty-eight percent said he should not have to step down, and the remaining 12% were unsure.

Sixty-three percent said the prime minister should resign if police were to recommend an indictment for charges of fraud or breach of trust, while 27% took the opposite view.

The results came amid reports that police are formulating a recommendation that Netanyahu stand trial in the coming weeks over suspicions he received illegal gifts and favors from businessmen while advancing their interests.

Investigators have reportedly been seeking evidence to shore up a bribery indictment against the prime minister. Yet, no details have been forthcoming as to the charges police are ultimately planning to recommend as they wrap up the two investigations against him.

In Case 1000, Netanyahu and his wife, Sara, are suspected of receiving illicit gifts from billionaire benefactors, most notably hundreds of thousands of shekels’ worth of cigars and champagne from the Israeli-born Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

Case 2000 involves a suspected illicit quid-pro quo deal between Netanyahu and Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper publisher Arnon “Noni” Mozes that would have seen the prime minister hobble a rival daily, the Sheldon Adelson-backed Israel Hayom, in exchange for more favorable coverage from Yedioth.

Netanyahu, who has denied wrongdoing in both cases, last week played down the significance of the looming police recommendation he stand trial.

“If there will be recommendations [to indict] — so what?” Netanyahu told a rally of Likud members. “Here’s a fact I doubt the public knows: The vast majority of police recommendations end with nothing. More than 60 percent of police recommendations are thrown out.”

In light of that address, the Hadashot poll asked respondents whether the police investigations of the prime minister were justified or merely a witch hunt against him, as he has claimed.

Fifty-nine percent said that the probes against Netanyahu were justified, as opposed to 27% who stated they constituted a witchhunt.

Conducted by Mina Tzemach and Meno Geva of the Midgam institute, the survey polled 504 Israelis and had a margin of error of 4.4%.

In a jab at the inaccuracy of Tzemach’s surveys prior to the 2015 elections, which predicted a victory for the Zionist Union list, the Likud party said in a statement later Saturday that “according to Mina Tzemach’s polls, [former Zionist Union leader Isaac] Herzog should have been prime minister today.”

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