As the High Court of Justice and the attorney-general decide whether they think Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu must resign due to the prosecution’s indictment against him, who does the Israeli public trust?
One might have expected that the momentous decision by Attorney-General Avichai Mandelblit to indict Netanyahu, and the High Court hearings about his fate as premier, might have radically changed people's views.
But a report by the Israel Democracy Institute (IDI) publicized on Wednesday indicated there is not a huge change when it comes to trust, and that views of the various main actors on the stage mostly breakdown by traditional partisan leanings.
In 2018, the level of trust in the Supreme Court was at 55% among respondents; in the 2019 survey published Wednesday, the level was the same.
In 2018, the level of trust in the Attorney-General’s Office was 47%; in the 2019 IDI report it had only dropped to 46%, which is not a statistically significant change.
The only real drop was regarding trust in the police, which dropped from 52% in 2018 to 44% in 2019. However, in earlier years of the 2010s, the police have had approval ratings ranging from about 30% to 60%, so even 44% is a middle-of-the-road rating.
In addition, all of these trust ratings for the legal establishment and law enforcement, which are going head-to-head with Netanyahu, are far higher than the trust ratings the report has for the Knesset (30%), the government ( also 30%) and for political parties in general (14%).
In fact, the only public figures and institutions with higher trust ratings in the IDI report were the IDF and the office of the president, which rarely takes on controversial issues. Even with the fight over Netanyahu’s criminal cases, President Reuven Rivlin tried to chart a middle path between the various political parties.
Regarding polling directly about the legal establishment’s handling of the Netanyahu cases, past IDI reports have indicated that 59% of Israelis thought he should resign, cut a plea deal or temporarily step down until such time as he might be acquitted. Some 32% said that he should be allowed to stay in office until convicted or should be given immunity from prosecution.
At the same time, 59% of Israelis think that Supreme Court rulings are politically biased and 58% believe that their leadership is corrupt.
Who is biased and who is corrupt – and how troubling that is for respondents – tends to be influenced by whether they are on the left or right side of the political spectrum.
While around 45-54% of respondents view Israeli democracy as in danger due to corruption and other issues, Israel as a country is viewed as being in the third most corrupt of OECD countries with a poor rating of 36%.