The recent announcement by Israel Police recommending that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu be indicted on corruption charges as part of the Case 1000 and Case 2000 investigations have had little effect thus far on Netanyahu’s prospects at winning reelection or the stability of his coalition, a new poll suggests.
On Tuesday night, investigators stated publicly that they believe sufficient evidence has been collected to merit indictments in both the "Case 1000" and "Case 2000" investigations, involving allegations of the receipt of gifts from wealthy businessmen and charges of collusion with a newspaper publisher.
In the Case 1000 investigation, police claim that the Netanyahu family received approximately one million shekels ($283,000) in gifts, including jewelry, cigars, and champagne from wealthy businessmen in exchange for political favors. Hollywood filmmaker Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer were both named in the police statement Tuesday in connection with the case.
Police also claim that the Case 2000 investigation yielded evidence that the Prime Minister had colluded with the publisher of Yediot Ahronot, Arnon (Noni) Mozes to pass the Israel Hayom bill, barring free distribution of Yediot’s chief competitor, Israel Hayom. In exchange, according to investigators, Mozes had promised more favorable coverage of the Prime Minister and his family in the paper.
The Prime Minister denied the allegations and vowed to continue serving as premier.
“I feel that it is incumbent upon me to continue leading the State of Israel,” Netanyahu said. “Citizens of Israel, you know that all the work that I have done was with the good of the State of Israel in mind. Nothing will distract me from this sacred duty. Today isn’t any different from so many other days.”
“Our government will finish its term,” added Netanyahu.
A new Rafi Smith poll released Friday morning by Maariv suggests that the recent police announcement has had little effect on voters, with the Netanyahu-led coalition retaining nearly all of its seats.
If new elections were held today, the poll shows, the Likud and the five other coalition factions would win a combined 65 mandates – just one less than the 66 mandates the coalition currently holds. That marks a one seat increase compared to a prior Rafi Smith poll conducted last August.
The Likud would remain the largest party in the Knesset, the poll shows, with 28 seats – down 2 from the 30 won in 2015.
Former Finance Minister Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party, a member off the opposition since the faction bolted the previous Netanyahu government in late 2014, would win 22 mandates, doubling its current 11.
The predominantly Arab Joint List party would lose a single seat, falling from 13 mandates to 12, while the Zionist Union list would fall from 24 seats to just 15.
The Jewish Home would emerge as the largest coalition partner after the Likud party with 11 seats – up from the 8 the party won in 2015 but still below the party’s peak strength of 12 seats in 2013.
Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman’s Yisrael Beytenu and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon’s Kulanu parties would each win 7 seats, an increase for Yisrael Beytenu, which won 6 in 2015, but a drop of 3 seats for Kulanu, which ran for the first time in 2015, winning 10 seats.
Among the haredi factions, the Sephardic Shas party would drop two seats, falling to five mandates – its poorest showing since its first election in 1984, when the party won four seats. In 1999, Shas won 17 seats, and had remained in double digits up to the 2015 election.
The United Torah Judaism party would rise to seven seats from six if new elections were held today.
The far-left Meretz faction would gain a single mandate, rising from five to six seats, if new elections were held today.
A new party headed by former Defense Minister Moshe Yaalon would not cross the minimum threshold of 3.25%, the poll showed. Former Likud MK’s new Zehut party and former Shas chairman Eli Yishai’s Yahad list would also fail to cross the minimum threshold.