(March 1, 2019 / Israel Hayom) After Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s defense and the opposition’s attack, one question remains in politics: to what extent will Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit’s decision to indict Netanyahu affect the election results? As of now, no one seems to know.
Netanyahu’s supporters—the ones who believe that the justice system has joined forces with the left and that they made a joint decision to persecute Netanyahu until they brought him down—were not only not surprised on Thursday at the attorney general’s news, they even held fast to their position. They are voters worth a few dozen seats who will put a Likud ballot in the box in April, even if 100 more cases are opened against Netanyahu by the time of the April election. Thursday’s decision certainly didn’t influence them.
On the other hand, those who oppose Netanyahu and long to see him toppled had no need of Mandelblit and his detailed 56-page letter to think that Netanyahu needs to go. In this case, too, they represent a few dozen Knesset seats who will give their votes to the opposition and would have done so even if Mendelblit had cleared Netanyahu of every charge.
The decision will influence, if at all, those who have supported the prime minister so far, but whose support cracked following Mandelblit’s announcement. They think that the police, the State Attorney’s Office and everyone else involved in the investigations involving Netanyahu were affected by outside interests, but they trust Mandelblit. If he decides there was bribery, then there probably was, they think. This group might start leaving the Likud right away—something that will show up in the next batch of polls.
But no one really knows how many people like that there are. Who are they—these folks who until now supported Netanyahu in spite of all the suspicions, investigations and leaks that have been laid out before them for months, but who, starting on Thursday, abandoned him and decided that as far as they are concerned, he can no longer be prime minister? Are there 1,000 people like this? 100,000? Who knows? The next polls will say so.
A mirror image of this phenomenon also exists. There are people who never thought of voting for Netanyahu, but on Thursday decided to. They thought the persecution had gone too far. They were nauseated by the crowing in the TV studios. No one will educate them or try to force them into artificial horror or to believe that this week, Israeli democracy died.
The next round of polls will be of vital importance and needs to examine not only at the battle between Likud and the Blue and White Party, but also at how the blocs are realigned. Likud voters could cross lines and put the next right-wing coalition in danger.