Most Israelis don’t want Netanyahu plea bargain, poll shows

By a two-to-one margin, left-wing respondents want the court to have its say, while on the right, the response was evenly split.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

Polls taken by two Israeli news channels Sunday night show that a majority of the public prefers that the combined corruption trial of former prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu play itself out in court rather than end now with a plea agreement.

Between Channels 11 and 13, among all respondents, only 28-29% said they supported a plea deal, while 49% or 46% were opposed. Another quarter had no opinion or did not know.

Those who identified with the left were twice as likely to want the court to have its say, 54% to 25%, while on the right, people were evenly split – 36% wanted a deal and 35% did not.

Likud voters differed significantly, however. According to Channel 11’s survey, 42% preferred a plea deal, while according to Channel 13, only 32% did.

If Netanyahu has to admit to moral turpitude in his plea agreement, which would probably end the 72-year-old leader’s political career as it would force him out of the Knesset for seven years, support on the right for the deal drops significantly. In such a case, 52% are against and 26% are fort it. Among Likud voters, only a fifth said their party head should take the deal.

On the other side, left-wing backing would rise from 25% to 30% if Netanyahu would have to pay that price, which Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit is reportedly insisting on. In general, Channel 13 had 49% of the respondents saying that Netanyahu should be forced to publicly accept that his actions had this element of ethical baseness in them, while 40% disagreed.

In line with this thinking, Channel 11 found that 36% of all respondents believe Netanyahu was guilty of all charges against him, with another 19% saying that he was guilty of at least some. Only 22% say he was completely innocent. Even on the right, 42% believe that some of the charges are justified, although more than a third, 36%, believe none of them are.

A finding of moral turpitude that would end Netanyahu’s political life is the main reason why his wife, Sarah, and son Yair object to negotiating with the prosecution for an early end to the trial, according to Channel 13. His legal team is reportedly in favor of a deal.

Those who want Netanyahu to fight on have been reaching into their pockets to help him do so. A crowdfunding campaign set up Sunday to help the multi-millionaire former prime minister defray his legal expenses has reached the NIS 2.5 million mark as of this writing, made by more than 16,000 donors.

In amy event, Mandelblit’s term ends on February 1. Considering his eagerness to make a deal – which he had been willing to make well before the trial even began – there is seemingly a rather short deadline for the negotiations to take place and an agreement reached.

One anonymous member of the State Attorney’s Office told Arutz 7 Sunday that in his opinion, “the likelihood of a plea bargain is very small to slim. Practically speaking, there’s barely any time left in which to conclude such a deal…. It’s not nearly as simple as people are making it out to be.”