Not Much Public Support for Immunity Bill

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the weekly cabinet meeting at his Yerushalayim office, Sunday. (Gali Tibbon/Pool via Reuters)

A poll published on Monday found that a majority of Israelis are opposed to a bill to grant Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu immunity from prosecution, as reported in the media.

Some 56 percent of Israelis oppose such legislation, which PM Netanyahu has reportedly backed. Thirty-three percent supported it, while 11 percent said they had no opinion.

The poll, conducted by the Panels Politics polling agency, also said that 51 percent of Israelis think that Netanyahu should resign if indicted.

Predictably, his greatest bastion of support was in his Likud party. Even if an indictment is handed down, 71 percent of Likud voters backed the immunity bill, and 80 percent said the prime minister should remain in office even if indicted. In contrast, just 3 percent of left- and center-aligned voters say PM Netanyahu should be allowed to stay in power in those circumstances.

In the face of strong opposition to an immunity bill, which had reportedly been part of the coalition talks for the new government, it appeared that Netanyahu has revised his strategy.

Instead of fighting to push through a new law, the sources close to the prime minister said, Netanyahu would seek to fend off resignation demands by citing a clause in the existing law which could shield him on the grounds that an indictment would harm the Knesset or the governance of the country.

PM Netanyahu is also expected to make use of another clause, which states that immunity can be granted if the indictment “has been issued in bad faith or because of discrimination.” Netanyahu, besides insisting on his innocence throughout the investigations, has also accused the police and prosecutors of conducting a witch hunt, including leaking information damaging to his case.

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