Netanyahu Surges in Polls After Trump Withdraws From Iran Nuclear Deal

Netanyahu attracting voters away from other right wing parties as new poll shows Likud reaching 35 Knesset seats

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at Sunday's cabinet meeting.
Emil salman

The Likud party would surge to 35 Knesset seats if elections were held today, up from 30 in the current Knesset, according to a poll released on Wednesday.

To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz

Israel Television News, which commissioned the poll, said this is the highest Likud has polled in the past decade. It also represents a sharp rise from polls conducted earlier this year. The party polled at 26 seats in February, 30 in March and 28 in April.

>> Syria blames Israel for strike near Damascus; 7 Iranians said killed ■ Israel's preventative actions thwart Iran's revenge from Syria - for now | Analysis

The poll was conducted after U.S. President Donald Trump announced Tuesday night that his country was withdrawing from the nuclear deal with Iran. In his announcement, Trump referenced Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s press conference last week, in which the Israeli leader unveiled documents about Iran’s nuclear program taken from a secret Iranian archive.

Netanyahu welcomed Trump’s “bold” decision and urged other countries to follow suit. He said all Israelis should appreciate Trump’s decision “to reject the disastrous nuclear deal” and confront Iranian aggression.”

Wednesday’s poll found that the Habayit Hayehudi party would win eight seats if elections were held today – the same as it has now, but fewer than previous polls have predicted – while the new party founded by independent MK Orli Levi-Abekasis would win five seats.

Yesh Atid would win 18 seats, up from 11 today, while Zionist Union would drop from 24 to 14. The Arab parties’ Joint List would dip to 12 seats from its current 13, and Kulanu would plunge to just six seats, from 10 today.

The two ultra-Orthodox parties, United Torah Judaism and Shas, would win seven and six seats, respectively, little changed from their current respective tallies of six and seven. Meretz would remain unchanged at five seats.

In the poll commissioned by Israel Television News last month, Yesh Atid, Habayit Hayehudi, Meretz and Levi-Abekasis’ party all did one to three seats better than they did in the current poll. Last month, they polled at 20, 10, six and eight seats, respectively. Shas, in contrast, did worse last month, when it polled at only four seats.