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Most Israelis oppose a Netanyahu plea deal but a majority believe that the former premier is guilty in at least some of the cases against him

Meanwhile, right-wing supporters launch a fundraising campaign to pay for his legal costs   

Israelis attend a protest against a potential plea deal with former Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu near the home of Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit, Petah Tikva, Jan. 15, 2022. (Photo: Chen Leopold/Flash90)

A majority of Israelis oppose a potential plea deal to end the corruption trial of Benjamin Netanyahu but according to the same polls, more Israelis believe the former prime minister is guilty than those who believe he is innocent. 

According to polls published by Israel’s Channel 12 news, Channel 13 news and Kan 11 broadcasting, most Israelis believe that Netanyahu is guilty in at least some of the charges against him. If a plea bargain is reached, they would like to see Netanyahu agree to a conviction that includes “moral turpitude,” a legal phrase that describes conduct contrary to community standards of justice, honesty or good morals.

This would eject him from public life for at least seven years, possibly ending his political career.

Under the reported deal, bribery charges against Netanyahu would be dropped, but the head of the Israeli opposition will then be required to plead guilty to fraud and breach of trust, perform community service, be disgraced and removed from political life for seven years. 

On Sunday, Netanyahu’s right-wing supporters launched a fundraising campaign to cover some of the legal costs of his trial. On Monday, more than 2.5 million shekels ($859,000) had been raised. The organizers behind the campaign say that “this trial is not about Netanyahu alone and he does not sit there alone.”

Some of Netanyahu’s opponents claim that the former premier will not be able to use the funds for the trial, since many of them are anonymous contributions.  

MORE ON THE POLLING NUMBERS

Kan 11 found that 49% of respondents believe that Netanyahu's cases should be decided in court while only 28% support a plea deal. Some 36% believe that Netanyahu is guilty of all charges that were brought against him and just 22% think that he is innocent. 

In Kan 11's poll, 52% of respondents oppose such a deal while 26% support it. Channel 12's poll revealed a slight majority of 51% against the deal and 31% in favor. 

Israel's Channel 13 poll shows 46% of the public against the deal and 29% in favor. Most respondents also believe that Netanyahu is not serious about reaching a plea agreement and is only playing games with the prosecution. 

Netanyahu has pleaded not guilty to charges of bribery, breach of trust and fraud in three cases for which he was indicted in 2019. His trial, which began last year, is being conducted at the Jerusalem District Court. He has claimed the charges against him were part of a political witch hunt, with the purpose of removing him from power.

Israeli news polls also attempted to indicate what the political atmosphere in Israel would be like if Netanyahu were removed from public life. One poll (Channel 13) found that most Israelis would like to go elections, whereas the two other polls (Kan and Channel 12) showed the opposite result, where most Israelis would like to see the current government staying in power. 

All three polls reached similar results regarding who Likud voters would prefer to take Netanyahu’s place as head of the party. Most Likud voters believe that former Jerusalem Mayor and current Member of Knesset Nir Barkat is the most suitable candidate to lead the party.

Tal Heinrich is a senior correspondent for both ALL ISRAEL NEWS and ALL ARAB NEWS. She is currently based in New York City. Tal also provides reports and analysis for Israeli Hebrew media Channel 14 News.

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