Ministers, MKs Agree: Elections Not on the Horizon Yet

YERUSHALAYIM -
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. (Amit Shabi/Pool)

Despite a poll that shows that a majority of Israelis doubt Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s claims that there is nothing to the media stories of an influence-peddling deal between him and Yediot Acharonot publisher Arnon Mozes, MKs and ministers on the left and right said Tuesday that they do not see elections in the offing. Among those who rendered that opinion were Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel, Zionist Camp MK Eitan Cabel, and Interior Minister Rabbi Aryeh Deri. Netanyahu has also insisted that he will not resign over the matter.

Shas chairman Rabbi Deri believes that the parties in Netanyahu’s coalition will remain in his government, despite the findings in the Channel Two poll on Israelis’ attitude to the scandal, in which Mozes tried to offer Netanyahu a deal for better coverage in exchange for limiting or otherwise harming the business of Yediot competitor Yisrael Hayom. Speaking at an event at the National Press Club, Rabbi Deri said that “we intend to allow the prime minister to function in his job as long as the law allows us to. We will give him our backing. I hope that we will not reach the point where this will become an issue. I believe that even if he is forced to resign, it will be only at a time very close to the scheduled elections” in 2018.

Ariel said that he, too, believed that elections were not on the horizon right now. “Based on the information we have, we are not going to elections, and there will be no indictments,” he told Army Radio. “If there are no criminal charges then there will be no resignations, and no elections.”

Cabel, too, said that he did not believe the government was set to fall. “Unfortunately, there will not be elections anytime soon,” Cabel said on Army Radio. “It has nothing to do with whether or not we are ready. We really do need elections because this is one of the worst governments in Israel’s history.”

However, a Channel Two poll Tuesday provided a different motivation for Cabel’s attitude: If elections were held today, his party would receive just 11 seats in the new Knesset, making it the fourth-largest party, unlike the case for Ariel’s Jewish Home, which would, according to the poll, receive 12 seats in a new Knesset, substantially increasing its power.

The largest party, according to the Channel Two poll, would be Yesh Atid, which would achieve 26 mandates, with the Likud coming in second, with 24. The results of this poll, by the Minna Tzemach organization, were nearly identical to the results of a poll last week by Channel Ten and Walla News.

Forty-four percent of respondents in the Channel Two poll said that Netanyahu ought to resign in the wake of the scandal, while 43 percent said he should not. Thirteen percent said they had no opinion.