2 polls indicate big surge for Netanyahu’s Likud after Trump’s Iran announcement
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2 polls indicate big surge for Netanyahu’s Likud after Trump’s Iran announcement

Likud shown winning 35-42 seats, a huge jump from its current 30 seats, were elections to be held today

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on Iran's nuclear program at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Jack Guez)
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu delivers a speech on Iran's nuclear program at the Defense Ministry in Tel Aviv on April 30, 2018. (AFP/Jack Guez)

Two new polls released Wednesday indicated dramatic surges in support for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud party following US President Donald Trump’s withdrawal from the Iran nuclear deal.

One survey, conducted immediately after Trump’s Tuesday announcement and partially released by Army Radio, found that if elections were held now, Likud would win 42 seats, a huge jump from its current 30 seats in the Knesset.

According to this poll, Likud would have more that twice as many seats as any other party in the 120-seat Knesset. A series of previous polls had Likud more or less holding steady at its current level of seats.

The secular centrist Yesh Atid would become the second largest party with 18 seats, more than its current 11, but fewer than in other recent polls. Zionist Union would fall to 10 seats (24), Jewish Home would receive eight seats (down from 12), United Torah Judaism nine (up from its current 6) and Shas would clear the minimum threshold with five (one less than its current total).

A second survey, published Wednesday evening by Hadashot TV news, also showed a major, if less dramatic rise in support for the Likud — to 35 seats, with Yesh Atid on 18, Zionist Union on 14, the Joint (Arab) List on 12, Jewish Home on 8, UTJ on 7, Kulanu on 6, Yisrael Beytenu on 6, Orly Levy-Abekasis on 5, Meretz on 5 and Shas on 4 seats.

This survey found 62% of Israelis pleased by the US withdrawal from the Iran nuclear accord, with 17% displeased. It also showed 62% concerned that war may break out, compared to 31 who were not concerned.

Iran has been Netanyahu’s signature issue and he has long opposed the deal and urged the US president to “completely fix it or nix it.”

Analysts have said that Trump’s decision can be seen as one of Netanyahu’s greatest foreign policy achievements, on par with or even greater than Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital.

Jerusalem municipality workers hang a road sign directing to the US Embassy near the US Consulate in Jerusalem, on May 7, 2018. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel was the first country to announce its support for Trump’s Tuesday announcement.

“Israel fully supports President Trump’s bold decision today to reject the disastrous nuclear deal with the terrorist regime in Tehran,” Netanyahu said in a live English-language televised statement from his office, moments after Trump’s announcement.

The full results of the Army Radio poll, conducted by Avi Degani for the Geocartography Knowledge Group, were not released, so it was not clear how the other parties would fare, including the as-yet unnamed new party formed by MK Levy-Abekasis which made a strong showing in a previous poll.

MK Orly Levy-Abekasis attends a Knesset committee meeting on March 15, 2017.(Miriam Alster/Flash90)

It also made it impossible to gauge the strength of the  right- and left-wing blocs.

Israeli polls have often proved unreliable, with it being hard to forecast results when the balance between right- and left-wing blocs can be tight, and so many parties compete for seats.

In Israel’s pure proportional representation system, votes for the parties that fail to clear the electoral threshold are redistributed among the parties that do clear it.

The partial results of the survey that were released did not include how many people were polled or what was the margin of error.

Raphael Ahren contributed to this report.

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