Netanyahu's Party Would Still Finish First if Israeli Elections Were Held Today, Poll Says as PM's Legal Issues Grow

Likud party would still get 28 seats if elections were held today, despite string of corruption investigations into Netanyahu

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Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an event organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations in Jerusalem, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen Zvulun
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu speaks during an event organized by the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organisations in Jerusalem, February 21, 2018. REUTERS/Ronen ZvulunCredit: \ RONEN ZVULUN/ REUTERS

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's Likud party will still be the biggest party in Israel if elections were held today, says a poll published Saturday in the shadow of a slew of corruption investigations against the prime minister.

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According to a poll by the Israeli version of "Meet the Press," the Likud would win 28 Knesset seats, down from 30, while the centrist Yesh Atid would win 24, more than double the 12 they currently have and even more than the 19 it won during its first run in politics two elections ago.

According to the poll, the Zionist Union would finish third with 15 Knesset seats, followed by the Joint List with 12. The right-wing Habayit Hayehudi and centrist Kulanu would win 9 each, while both the Yisrael Beiteinu party and the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism party would get 7. The left-wing Meretz party would retain its six seats while Shas would drop one seat to five.

The poll's results are similar to one conducted by Channel 10 and published Wednesday evening. That poll predicted that despite the recent and dramatic revelations regarding the corruption cases involving Netanyahu, his Likud party would still get 27 seats in the Knesset if elections were held today.

According to the Channel 10 poll, if elections were held today with a different leader of the Likud in Netanyahu's place, the party would get 26 seats in the Knesset.

Channel 10 carried out the poll after the police released its recommendations to indict the prime minister for bribery offenses pertaining to two of the earlier corruption probes he is embroiled in: Case 1000 (the probe centering on suspicion that he received lavish gifts from Hollywood producer Arnon Milchan and Australian businessman James Packer) and Case 2000 (the probe alleging that Netanyahu promised the publisher of Israeli daily Yediot Aharonot to decrease the circulation of its competitor Israel Hayom in return for better coverage).

The poll also revealed that 50 percent of Israelis polled believe that Netanyahu should resign from his post or at least vacate it temporarily, as opposed to 33 percent of the public who support him and wish to see him remain the prime minister.

When asked about the future of the current government in the wake of the reports on the different corruption cases surrounding the premier, 42 percent of pollsters said that they thought Israel should hold early elections. Thirty-six percent of those asked were opposed to holding new elections.

Thus far, controversial lawmaker Oren Hazan was the only Likud and coalition member who called on Netanyahu to temporarily abandon the premiership due to the developments in the probes against him. "Neglecting to make a wise decision could cast a shadow over a very great career," Hazan told Kan News Wednesday morning. "These suspicions could make us lose the rule [over Israel]," he said.

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