Likud still on top, despite Netanyahu investigations

Despite revelation police investigation PM over bribery, fraud allegations, Netanyahu's Likud, right-wing parties actually improve position.

David Rosenberg,

Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu

While Israeli police disclosed last Thursday that the ongoing investigations into Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu include suspicions of alleged crimes far more serious than originally believed, voters seem unfazed, showing greater support for the Likud and Netanyahu’s coalition partners following the disclosure.

On August 3rd, investigators revealed that the suspicions against Netanyahu included fraud, bribery, and breach of trust. The investigations are centered around what have been dubbed the “1000” and “2000” scandals, which revolve around accusations of bribery by Israeli businessmen and collusion between the Prime Minister and the publisher of one of Israel’s largest newspapers.

A day later, former Netanyahu Chief of Staff and political consultant Ari Harow turned state witness in exchange for a plea bargain agreement keeping him out of jail amid accusations of bribery, money laundering, and fraud.

The Prime Minister has pushed back against the investigations, calling them part of an orchestrated attempt to undo the results of the 2015 election.

While a poll taken shortly after the revelation show that a majority of Israelis do not believe the Prime Minister’s claims, voters nevertheless appear to be just as willing to back Netanyahu and his coalition partners.

According to a new Panels Politics survey published by Maariv Friday morning, both Likud and the Netanyahu coalition made gains over the previous poll, conducted before the police disclosure.

While a July 21st Panels poll showed the Likud winning 24 seats, Friday’s poll gave Netanyahu’s party 25 seats. That still represents a 5-mandate decline from the 30 seats won in 2015, but suggests the latest revelations regarding the investigations into the so-called “1000” and “2000” scandals may not be harming Netanyahu’s electoral prospects.

Netanyahu’s present coalition – which includes Shas, United Torah Judaism, Jewish Home, Kulanu, Yisrael Beytenu – also showed a net gain over the previous poll, rising from 63 seats to 66.

The haredi United Torah Judaism party gained one seat compared to the previous poll, rising to eight – a two-seat increase over the party’s 2015 performance. Shas, on the other hand, remained stable in comparison to the past poll with five seats, a two-seat decline since 2015.

Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu party gained two seats since July, rising from five seats to seven. The party won six mandates in 2015.

The Jewish Home party fell by 1 seat, from 13 to 12, since the July poll, though Friday’s poll still shows a significant improvement over the party’s 2015 showing, which yielded 8 mandates.

Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu party remained stable from July to the present poll with 9 seats, a decline from the 10 the party won in 2015.

The Zionist Union, presently the largest opposition party and the second biggest party in the Knesset, would fall to third place from 24 seats to 16, a 3-seat decline since July.

Meretz picked up a single seat in the poll, rising to six mandates, while the predominantly Arab Joint List part fell two seats, from the 13 it won in 2015 to 11.