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Majority of Israelis oppose unilateral Iran strike: Poll

Thursday March 08, 2012 10:29:13 PM, IANS

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Jerusalem: Most Israelis oppose the idea of their country launching an unilateral strike on Iran's nuclear facilities, without US backing, according to a poll released on Thursday.

In the poll, jointly conducted by Israeli daily Ha'aretz and the Dialog Institute, 58 percent of respondents said they oppose independent military action against Tehran, though 50 percent said they trust Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defence Minister Ehud Barak's handling of the Iranian issue, reported Xinhua.

The findings are in line with those of a survey conducted late last month by Shibley Telhami, a nonresident senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who found that only 19 percent of the Israeli public supports a non-US-backed attack against Iran while nearly a third, 32 percent, oppose a strike altogether.

The publication of the Ha'aretz poll, conducted during Netanyahu's visit to Washington earlier this week, comes amid media reports of a deepening rift between Israel and the US over how best to deal with Tehran's nuclear programme, as well as substantial gaps in perceptions of the severity of the threat it poses.

Speaking before the annual America-Israel Public Affairs Committee conference Monday, Netanyahu urged the international community to acknowledge Iran's nuclear drive, saying, "If it looks like a duck and walks like a duck -- it's a nuclear duck." He reiterated his position that Israel reserves the sovereign right to defend itself against Iran as it sees fit.

In a meeting with President Barack Obama, prior to the speech, Netanyahu reportedly told the American leader that while he remains undecided on whether to strike Iran's nuclear sites, "all options remain on the table," according to White House sources who were briefed on the contents of the meeting.

Obama, for his part, told Netanyahu that his administration needs more time for sanctions and diplomacy to take their course, telling Netanyahu, however, that he has not ruled out the military option in halting Tehran's nuclear drive.

While Thursday's survey showed that many Israelis do not see eye to eye with their leader regarding the viability of a strike, it also found that support for Netanyahu is at an all-time high.

According to the poll, the ruling Likud party would win a landslide victory in the next elections, taking some 37 seats in parliament.






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