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Most right-wing Israeli voters want Netanyahu to remain prime minister even if he’s indicted

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90 Photo)

More than half of right-wing voters believe that Benjamin Netanyahu should continue as Prime Minister even if indicted, according to a new poll released by the Israel Democracy Institute on Monday.

Netanyahu’s formal indictment hearing will take place in October, weeks after the Israeli election on Sep. 17. Israeli Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit announced in March that he intends to indict Netanyahu for bribery, fraud and breach of trust in three separate corruption cases. Netanyahu is the first sitting prime minister to face a pending indictment.

But most of his base still wants him in the job, according to the poll, which was carried out by the Rafi Smith Institute in late June and surveyed 1,063 Israeli who voted for right-wing parties. Fifty-three per cent of right-wing voters want Netanyahu to remain in office if indicted. Twenty-one per cent say he should step aside temporarily until acquitted and 18 per cent believe he should resign once criminal charges are brought.

Six per cent favoured a plea bargain in which he would agree to retire from politics in exchange for not having to stand trial.

Netanyahu is mired in three scandals, called case 1000, 2000 and 4000 (Netanyahu is not a suspect in 3000). In 1000, he is accused of offering favours in exchange for gifts like cigars and champagne from a wealthy donor. In 2000 and 4000, he is alleged to have offered favours to the owners of media outlets in exchange for more favourable coverage.

There have been proposals to grant Netanyahu immunity while in office, which 30 per cent of right-wing voters support. But 56 per cent opposed an immunity law on the grounds that it abrogates equality before the law.

The poll also found that right-wing voters are split on the formation of a unity government in Israel after the election, with 42 per cent supporting it and 44 per cent opposed.

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