Trouble for Netanyahu: New poll predicts indictment to cost Likud four seats

Four different parties would each gain one seat in the April Knesset election at the Likud’s expense if the PM would face indictment.

By David Jablinowitz, World Israel News

Bad news for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his ruling Likud Party: contrary to the common wisdom that a decision to indict him for alleged political corruption would not hurt their cause, and perhaps might even help energize a defiant voter base, a just-released public opinion poll shows that the party would, in fact, suffer.

Netanyahu is under investigation in a number of cases and Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit has expressed a desire to reach a decision on the prime minister’s fate before the April 9 parliamentary election.

Israel’s Army Radio station aired results Tuesday of a poll conducted in conjunction with the Midgam and iPanel marketing research firms.

The answers to two questions asked in the survey were compared. The two questions were “If there were elections today, for which party would you vote?” and “If the attorney general decided that the prime minister should be indicted, including bribery charges, for which party would you vote?”

In answer to the first question, the Likud would receive 29 seats, and in answer to the second question, the Likud would receive 25 seats, according to the poll results.

Also based on the different answers, four different parties would each gain a seat at the Likud’s expense. The four parties are: Israel Resilience, a new party set up by former IDF chief of staff Benny Gantz; Yesh Atid, headed by former finance minister and journalist Yair Lapid; Kulanu, led by current finance minister Moshe Kahlon; and, Yisrael Beiteinu, whose leader Avigdor Liberman resigned as defense minister and took the party out of the Netanyahu government in November over a disagreement in policy regarding the Gaza Strip.

Netanyahu’s lawyers have been trying to prevent Mandelblit from making an announcement before the election. A meeting was held Monday between the two sides.

Despite the projected loss in Likud power if an indictment is announced, the party would still have a commanding lead over any other Knesset faction, and Netanyahu would still have the best chance of forming the next Israeli government. The poll shows that the Likud would either have a formidable 16-seat lead, or still-respectable 11-seat advantage, over both Israel Resilience and Yesh Atid.