Netanyahu Indictment Ahead of Ballot Won't Influence Voters, Polls Show

Surveys have premier's Likud leading with 30 seats by a wide margin over contenders Yesh Atid, ex-army chief Gantz's new party and the Joint List

FILE PHOTO: Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu chairs the weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, December 23, 2018
RONEN ZVULUN,AP

A decision to indict Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu prior to the upcoming election will not impact the number of Knesset seats his Likud party will gain, a poll conducted by Israeli daily Maariv indicates.

Polling shows that even if Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit opts to hold a hearing for Netanyahu on his corruption charges, Likud would still win 30 seats, as it did in the last election. English-language daily The Jerusalem Post also published a poll this week showing similar results.

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The Maariv poll has Likud leading by 30 seats, with the Joint List, a coalition of Israeli Arab parties, coming in second far behind with 13 seats. Third is Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid with 12, tied with former Israeli army chief of staff Benny Gantz's Hosen L'Yisrael.

Hayamin Hehadash, led by education and justice ministers Naftali Bennett and Ayelet Shaked, would gain 11 Knesset seats according to the poll.

The Labor Party, still reeling from its dramatic split from Tzipi Livni's Hatnuah at the behest of chairman Avi Gabbay, came in with 8 seats.

Labor was followed in the poll by the two ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, which garnered seven and five seats, respectively. The left-wing Meretz party and Kulanu, led by Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon, also reached five seats.

Pulling in four seats each were Avigdor Lieberman's Yisrael Beitenu, Habayit Hayehudi – now led by MK Bezalel Smotrich after Bennett and Shaked's departure – and Orly Lev-Abekasis' new party, Gesher.

The Jerusalem Post also had Likud lead with 30 seats, with a joint list of Gantz and former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon coming in second with 14. The Joint List earns 12, while Yesh Atid follows close behind with 11.

Hayamin Hehadash comes in lower in the Jerusalem Post poll with 9 seats, followed by Kulanu, Shas and Meretz with 6 seats each. Yisrael Beiteinu and Gesher both come in at 5 seats.

The Jerusalem Post did not include the Labor Party in the poll. According to the results of the survey, Hatnuah and Habayit Hayehudi would not pass the electoral threshold.

The Maariv poll was conducted by the Panels Politics research institute at a sample representing Israel's adult demographic, Jews and Arabs aged 18 and above. The maximal sampling error for the poll stands at 4.3 percent. The Jerusalem Post survey was done by the Smith institute at a maximal sampling error of 4.5 percent.