Netanyahu and What Israelis Want to Happen Next

Most Israelis oppose plea bargain for former PM; if one is reached, most Israelis say “government of change” should no longer be in power

By Israel Today Staff | | Topics: Benjamin Netanyahu
If a plea bargain is reached, Netanyahu might have delivered his last address from the Knesset podium, at least for the foreseeable future. 
If a plea bargain is reached, Netanyahu might have delivered his last address from the Knesset podium, at least for the foreseeable future.  Photo: Noam Revkin Fenton/Flash90

Former Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is reportedly close to striking a plea bargain that would end his public trial for corruption and breach of trust. A series of opinion polls published this week revealed what Israelis think of that, and what they want to see happen next in Israel’s fractured political arena.

Around 50% of Israelis in all three polls conducted by Israel’s mainstream TV media outlets said they oppose a plea bargain that would see Netanyahu essentially admit to wrongdoing and be barred from political life for seven years due to “moral turpitude.”

Only around 30% support Bibi reaching a deal.

Those figures are true for Israelis on both the Left and the Right of the political spectrum.

Right-wing Israelis oppose a plea bargain because they maintain that Netanyahu is innocent, and will be proved as such in the course of his trial.

Left-wing Israelis oppose a plea bargain because they believe Netanyahu must be made an example of and spend time in jail for his misconduct.

If Netanyahu reaches a plea bargain and is barred from political activity for the foreseeable future, 39% say the current “government of change” should remain in power. 52% say it should not.

Why was this question even asked in the media surveys? Because the outcome of the last election and the formation of the current government were almost entirely centered on the person of Benjamin Netanyahu and ousting him from power. The one thing that unites the highly disparate parties in the governing coalition is a disdain for Bibi.

If Netanyahu is removed from the picture, those 52% of Israelis who say the current government should end have different views on how that should happen:

  • 24% say the Likud party, the largest faction in Knesset, should form a strong right-wing coalition under a new leader and take over;
  • 28% say Israel should head to new elections, in which polls still show Likud coming out on top, though with somewhat fewer seats absent Netanyahu.

At present the most likely replacement for Netanyahu as head of the Likud party is former-Jerusalem Mayor Nir Barkat. With Barkat at the helm, Likud is projected to win 29 seats in early elections (the same number it currently has). If Netanyahu were still to lead the party, Likud would win 33 seats in new elections.

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