Majority of Israelis Don't Believe Netanyahu's Innocence in Graft Cases

Asked who should replace Netanyahu as prime minister, 17 percent named Yair Lapid, while Naftali Bennett and Gideon Sa'ar were tied at 10 percent.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, January 16, 2017.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Likud faction meeting at the Knesset, January 16, 2017. Olivier Fitoussi

The majority of the public does not believe Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s assertion that he didn’t break the law in either of the two cases in which he is now being investigated, a poll by Channel 2 found.

The poll results, which aired Tuesday night, showed that while 28 percent believed Netanyahu, 54 percent did not; 18 percent said they didn’t know.

Those polled were evenly divided on the question of whether Netanyahu should resign due to these cases, with 44 percent saying he should go and 43 percent saying he should stay. The remaining 13 percent said they didn’t know.

Respondents were then asked who should replace Netanyahu as prime minister. The top choice was Yesh Atid Chairman Yair Lapid, who was named by 17 percent. Habayit Hayehudi leader Naftali Bennett and former minister Gideon Sa’ar (Likud) were tied for second place, tied at 10 percent. They were followed by Chairman of Zionist Union Isaac Herzog and former minister Moshe Ya’alon (Likud), with six percent each; Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan (Likud) at five percent; and Transportation Minister Yisrael Katz (Likud) at three percent.

Tuesday afternoon, police questioned Netanyahu’s son Yair in what is known as Case 1000, which revolves around suspicions that Netanyahu and his family received illicit gifts from businessmen. 

Earlier in the day, police took testimony from Amos Regev, editor in chief of the daily Israel Hayom, in the second investigation, known as Case 2000. That case revolves around suspicions that Netanyahu and Arnon Mozes, publisher of the Yedioth Ahronoth daily, negotiated over an unconsummated deal under which Yedioth would grant Netanyahu more favorable coverage in exchange for legislative steps to curb Israel Hayom, its main rival. Mozes himself was also questioned by police in this case on Tuesday, for the fourth time.

Channel 10 reported Monday night that police planned to ask Yair Netanyahu about the various benefits he had received from Australian billionaire James Packer, as well as about the latter’s ties with his father. The report said the 25-year-old was expected to claim that his father had no idea who was providing him with these benefits. 

According to a Channel 10 report last month, the benefits in question including letting Yair spend last summer living in Packer’s luxury suite at the Royal Beach Hotel in Tel Aviv, putting him up at luxury hotels during trips overseas, and letting him fly on Packer’s private plane during those trips.

Channel 10 also reported that a few months ago, attorney Jacob Weinroth, who provides legal services to both Netanyahu and Packer, met with Interior Minister Arye Dery on Packer’s behalf to ask that he grant Packer permanent residency in Israel.