Majority of Israelis want Netanyahu to remain Prime Minister

Despite ongoing investigations, including allegations of gifts from media mogul, Israelis increasingly oppose resignation of Prime Minister.

David Rosenberg ,

Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet meeting, January 15 2017
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at cabinet meeting, January 15 2017

Despite a host of investigations and allegations against the Prime Minister and his wife, Sara, a majority of Israelis believe Binyamin Netanyahu should not resign.

A police investigation probing gifts allegedly given by media mogul Nuni Mozes to the Prime Minister, as well as claims of a conflict of interest in a purchase by Netanyahu’s government of ballistic missile submarines and allegations that public funds were diverted to Netanyahu family’s private residence have all fueled speculation Netanyahu could be forced to resign, making new elections all but inevitable.

Earlier this week a veteran Shas MK warned that Netanyahu’s resignation was increasingly likely, adding that his party was already making preparations for early elections.

“We’re getting ready for the possibility of elections,” the MK said. “This whole business [police investigation of Mozes’s alleged gifts to PM] doesn’t smell good. An indictment isn’t so unrealistic, and in this kind of situation the odds of new elections are very high, so we’re preparing for that possibility – it won’t be easy, but slowly things are becoming clearer.”

On Sunday, the Prime Minister himself addressed the investigations, slamming what he called “an orchestrated media campaign” to undermine his government.

“In recent days, there has been an orchestrated media campaign, unprecedented in its scope, to bring down the Likud government under my leadership. This propaganda campaign is designed to pressure the Attorney General and other factors in the prosecution to indict me.”

But a recent pair of surveys conducted by the Panels polling agency shows a bit of good news for the Prime Minister, revealing that a majority of Israelis back the Prime Minister, and that Israelis are increasingly opposed to calls for Mr. Netanyahu to resign.

The first poll, from January 9th, shows that 45% of all Israelis believe Netanyahu should not resign, compared to 39% who said he should quit, and 16% who had no response.

But just six days later, on January 15th, the margin in favor of the Prime Minister doubled from 6 to 12%, with fully 50% of Israelis saying they were opposed to Netanyahu resigning, compared to 38% who said he should resign.

The polls show, unsurprisingly, that the Prime Minister’s strongest support came from right-wing voters, with 61% opposing his resignation in the first survey and 70% opposing it in the second. By contrast, the overwhelming majority of left-wing voters say Netanyahu should resign, rising from 79% in the first poll to 82% in the second. The left, however, is a minority in Israel.