Binyamin Netanyahu
Binyamin Netanyahu Reuters

A majority of Israelis say they don’t believe Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claims of innocence, following reports by police that he is under investigation for fraud, bribery, and breach of trust.

According to a poll published by Channel 10 on Sunday, just 27% of Israelis say they believe Netanyahu’s claim that the investigations against him are politically-motivated and have no foundation. Fifty-one percent said they do not believe him.

The media have been spearheading a campaign against Netanyahu for months and that, plus leaks from the investigation, have taken their toll..

The poll further reveals that 66% of Israelis believe that should an indictment be filed against the Prime Minister, he would need to resign. This despite Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked’s (Jewish Home) claim that Netanyahu would not be required to resign over an indictment. Just 21% of the public agreed with Shaked, saying that the Prime Minister would not need to resign unless convicted.

If Netanyahu remained at the head of the Likud, the poll shows the ongoing investigations taking a serious toll both on the Likud and the Israeli right in general.

Under Netanyahu, the Likud would win just 27 mandates, the poll shows, one less than the previous Channel 10 poll on July 27th, and three less than the Likud won in 2015. The members of the current Likud-based coalition would face combined loss of 3 seats, falling from 67 seats held by coalition partners to just 64 seats – a decline of 4 seats since the previous poll.

The Jewish Home would gain 1 seat from the 8 it currently holds, but fall 4 seats from the 13 it was projected to win by the previous poll.

Avidgor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu rose to eight mandates from the six it won in 2015 and seven the previous poll showed it winning if elections were held today.

Shas remains stable with six seats, while the United Torah Judaism party gains one seat, rising to seven, the same number of seats it was projected to win in the previous poll. Kulanu loses 3 seats, falling to 7, while Yesh Atid gains 5, surging to 16.

The Zionist Union would lose 2 mandates, falling to 22, compared to 20 in the previous poll. Meretz remains stable with 5, and the Joint List falls 2 seats to 11.

If Netanyahu were ousted from the Likud, however, the party would gain one seat, rising to 31. The present coalition would see a net gain of 1 seat, rising from 67 seats to 68.

The most likely candidates to replace Netanyahu as the standard-bearer of the Likud are former Likud minister Gideon Saar, who was favored by 23% of the general public, followed by Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) with 11%, Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman (Yisrael Beytenu) with 9%, Internal Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) with 6%, Justice Minister Shaked with 5%, and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) with 4%.