On the eve of Israel’s general election, public opinion on the streets of occupied West Jerusalem appears to be divided over the future of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.
Tuesday’s repeat polls pit Netanyahu, the leader of the right-wing Likud party and Israel’s longest-serving prime minister, against his toughest opponent in years: Former military chief Benjamin “Benny” Gantz of the centrist Blue and White party.
The election comes just two weeks before Netanyahu, who failed to form a majority coalition government after a vote in April, faces a pre-trial hearing in connection with three separate corruption cases: Bribery, fraud and breach of trust. The prime minister denies wrongdoing.
“Netanyahu is desperate to be re-elected and to form a government because this is the only viable way for him not to go to trial,” said Uri Dromi, an Israeli political analyst.
But this time, many of his former supporters in Jerusalem – traditionally a Likud stronghold – seem resistant to back him.
“I’ve always been a supporter of Bibi, but he’s lost his way,” said Miril Levi, a 52-year-old jewellery stall owner in West Jerusalem, referring to the prime minister by his nickname.
“I know he’s our best politician, and I support his policies all the way, but it’s his corruption that I can’t deal with,” said Levi, adding that she plans to vote for Gantz.