Survey finds 72% back investigating Netanyahu

Opinion split on prime minister’s claim that he is subject of media witch hunt aimed at ousting him

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally in his support, as he and his wife face legal investigations, held in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks at a rally in his support, as he and his wife face legal investigations, held in Tel Aviv, August 9, 2017. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

Israelis are in favor of pushing ahead with two corruption investigations into Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu but almost half of those surveyed said they agree with the premier when he claims he is the subject of a witch hunt aimed ousting him out of office.

The survey asked if investigations against a serving prime minister should be postponed; 15 percent said they should be put off, while 72% said the investigations should go ahead.

The poll published on Thursday was carried out by the Midgam Research Institute for Channel 2 television and asked 540 respondents. The poll had a margin of error of 4.2 percent.

On Wednesday, facing a crowd of some 3,000 Likud party activists at a rally organized to show support for the prime minister, Netanyahu launched a tirade against the left-field of Israeli politics and media that he accused of conspiring against him.

The survey asked respondents if they agree with Netanyahu’s claim of a media/left-wing witch hunt to bring him down to which 48 percent said they don’t agree, while 42% said they do agree.

Another question asked if the speech Netanyahu gave at the rally strengthened or weakened their trust in the prime minister. Just 11% said that it boosted their trust in him, 50% said that speech didn’t change their opinion, and 27% said it weakened their trust.

At the rally, held in Tel Aviv and attended by Likud ministers and lawmakers, Netanyahu accused the left and the media of using ever-widening corruption investigations against him and his family to try to oust him from power in what he called “a coup against the government.”

“They don’t want to just take me down, they want to take us all down,” he told the Likud party crowd. “They know that they can’t beat us at the ballot boxes, so they are trying to circumvent democracy and topple us in other ways.”

Netanyahu is engulfed in a series of scandals relating to alleged financial misdeeds and supposed illicit ties to executives in media, international business and Hollywood.

One investigation involving Netanyahu, dubbed by police as “Case 1000,” concerns claims he and his wife improperly accepted lavish gifts from wealthy supporters, including Australian billionaire James Packer and Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan.

The second investigation, “Case 2000,” concerns Netanyahu’s alleged attempts to strike a deal with publisher Arnon Mozes of the Yediot Ahronoth newspaper group to promote legislation to weaken Yediot’s main competitor in exchange for more favorable coverage of Netanyahu by Yediot.

A key former aide, Avi Harow, has turned state’s witness and reportedly given evidence relating to some of the investigations.

Netanyahu denies any wrongdoing.

His wife Sara is also facing indictment for misusing state funds at the prime minister’s residence. Netanyahu frequently reference her in the speech, calling the case against her “an embarrassment.”

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