Netanyahu Questioned by Police

Likud party chairman and Knesset opposition leader Binyamin Netanyahu was questioned by police on Tuesday over funding for opinion surveys conducted on his behalf.

Nissan Ratzlav-Katz , | updated: 8:09 PM

The police interview of the former prime minister was part of a larger, ongoing investigation by the National Fraud Unit of the former chairman of the pedagogical secretariat of the Education Ministry, Professor Yaakov Katz. According to police, Katz allegedly conducted political surveys for no obvious remuneration through the Institute of Community Education and Research of Bar-Ilan University, which he headed at the time.

Several witnesses were questioned by police on Tuesday. The investigation will continue, with further interviews still to come.

MK Netanyahu was questioned by police as a suspect regarding the possible misuse of public funds to pay for polls used to advance his own political standing in recent years. He never reported commissioning the surveys in question from the Bar-Ilan institute. MK Netanyahu was also questioned regarding possible illegal political contributions.

For his part, Netanyahu said that he used his own funds to pay for the surveys.

Sources close to Netanyahu said that the questions raised by police relate to events from a year and a half ago. The sources estimate that the investigation, as far as it touches Netanyahu, will have no dramatic consequences.

A public opinion poll from earlier this month, before the current police interrogation of the Likud leader, showed that Netanyahu was the preferred candidate for prime minister among 47% of Israelis; Incumbent Ehud Olmert was preferred by 22%. In Sderot, the Negev city under ongoing Palestinian Authority bombardment, 50% of the residents would prefer a Netanyahu administration; whereas, Olmert was preferred by only 10% of those polled.

The telephone poll, carried out by the Dahaf institute for Yediot Acharonot, included a representative sample of 499 adult Israelis (including Arab Israelis) and a poll of 400 Sderot residents. The phone interviews took place during the week of November 22. The results were published in Yediot on November 24.