Polls show Likud largely unhurt over PM spending report

Most Israelis say comptroller’s findings of prolfigate expenses and possible fraud at Netanyahu residences have no effect on their decision at ballot box

Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu cast votes in the Likud primary on December 31, 2014. Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)
Benjamin Netanyahu and his wife Sara Netanyahu cast votes in the Likud primary on December 31, 2014. Photo credit: Miriam Alster/Flash90)

much-anticipated State Comptroller report showing runaway spending by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu released Tuesday is unlikely to affect voters at the ballot box, two surveys showed Wednesday.

Survey released by Channel 2 and Channel 10 showed the vast majority of Israelis saying the poll had not affected their voting choice, while the Channel 10  poll also showed Netanyahu’s Likud party still neck and neck with opposition faction Zionist Union.

According to the Channel 2 poll, 92 percent said the report would not have an effect on their decision-making: 74% of respondents said they were not planning to vote Likud in any case, 18% said they would vote Likud anyway, 3% said they intended to vote Likud and were now unsure, 2% said they planned to vote for the ruling party but changed their minds following the release of the report, and 1% said they did not plan to vote Likud but were now considering doing so.

Among Likud voters, 78% said the report did not affect their decision, compared to 9% who said the findings on the Netanyahus’ spending led them to consider other options.

The poll was conducted among 408 respondents and had a margin of error of 4.8%.

A Channel 10 survey Wednesday found similar results, with 83% of 860 respondents saying they were not reconsidering their decision on which party to vote for on March 17.

The poll also showed a slight drop for the Likud, down to 22 seats from 23 in a February 8 survey, compared to 23 for the Zionist Union.

That poll surveyed 860 people. No margin of error was given.

The spending report released by state ombudsman Yosef Shapira detailed lavish spending by Netanyahu and his wife Sara at his official residence in Jerusalem and private home in Caesarea and alleged possible criminal misdeeds by the two.

The Netanyahus could face criminal charges over the accusation that Sara Netanyahu pocketed some NIS 4,000 ($1,035) of bottle refunds for recycling. Accusations that she purchased a set of patio furniture identical to the patio furniture at the official residence, which was subsequently delivered to the Netanyahu’s private residence, could also get them in trouble. A third alleged scandal, over a scheme to overpay electrician Avi Pachima — an apparent Likud apparatchik — by inviting him to do work on weekends and holidays and a subsequent cover-up, may also result in criminal charges.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is evaluating the evidence, and is expected to make a decision on how to proceed before the elections.

The report drew fierce accusations of “hedonism” from Netanyahu’s political rivals, while the Likud party blamed the prime minister’s ex-custodian.

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