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Netanyahu damaged, but Likud still in front, Israel poll finds

Thousands of people gather to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged corruption at the Rotschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv, Israel on December 16, 2017 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]
Thousands of people gather to protest Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over alleged corruption at the Rotschild Boulevard in Tel-Aviv, Israel on 16 December 2017 [Daniel Bar On / Anadolu Agency]

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has been damaged by police recommendations to indict him, but Likud remains the most popular political party, a new poll has found.

According to a report in the Jerusalem Post, Likud would win 28 seats in the Knesset if an election was held now (down from its current 30), ahead of 22 seats for Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid (up from 11).

The Labor-dominated Zionist Camp would win 15 seats, down from its current 24, the Joint List would get 12 and Jewish Home would get 11.

Kulanu, Yisrael Beiteinu and United Torah Judaism would get seven each, with Meretz on six seats, and Shas on five seats.

On Tuesday, Israeli police said they had found sufficient evidence for Netanyahu to be charged with bribery in two separate cases. It is now up to Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to decide whether to file criminal charges, a process that may take several months.

Netanyahu: What happens next?

According to the poll, in the event that Netanyahu has to be replaced by another minister, 13 per cent preferred Education Minister Naftali Bennett, while ten per cent preferred both Defence Minister Avigdor Lieberman and Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon.

In terms of the Likud leadership, 29 per cent of respondents preferred former minister Gideon Sa’ar, 14 per cent preferred Transportation Minister Israel Katz, and eight per cent backed Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (46 per cent said none of the above).

When the pollsters asked respondents what Netanyahu should do in the wake of the police recommendations, 47 per cent said he should either quit or suspend himself, 43 per cent said he should continue in his job, and ten per cent had no opinion.

When asked whether Netanyahu is corrupt, 48 per cent of the respondents said yes, including 28 per cent who said he was very corrupt and 20 per cent who deemed him somewhat corrupt. Among those who voted Likud in March 2015, only eight per cent said he was corrupt.

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