Poll of Israelis on Iran Attack Shows Surprises

A poll released as PM Netanyahu heads for the US says that Israelis are divided on an Iran attack

David Lev ,

Netanyahu and Obama
Netanyahu and Obama

A poll released Thursday said that 81% of Israelis oppose a solo Israeli attack against Iran. The poll, taken by the Dahaf organization in Israel on behalf of the Brookings Institution. If, on the other hand, Washington approved an Israeli action against Iran, some two thirds of Israelis would support it. 34% would oppose a strike regardless of Washington's approval. The poll of 500 Israelis chosen as a demographic representation of the country also said that 19% believed that 19% would have no effect on Iran's nuclear program, and 11% thought an attack would actually accelerate Iran's development of nuclear weapons.

The poll was commissioned by Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, an expert on the Arab world, and the Anwar Sadat Professor for Peace and Development at the University of Maryland, College Park. Several Israeli sources speculated on the timing of the poll's release, on the eve of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu's meeting with U.S. President Barack H. Obama. The sources said that the poll was likely to influence talks about how Israel should approach Iran as it advances its nuclear weapons program.

The poll also showed that 68% of Israelis believe that an attack by Israel on Iranian nuclear facilities would prompt a response, if not by Iran, then by Iranian-sponsored Hizbullah terrorists. However, nearly half believed that an attack would significantly delay Iran's advancement towards nuclear weapons development.

If Israel did carry out an attack without U.S. approval, the poll said that Israelis believe that the U.S. would join a war against Iran, if the attack led to one.About half believed that such a conflict would last months or even years. Thirty nine percent said they thought the U.S. would support Israel diplomatically, but not militarily. Only 15% said they thought the U.S. would try to punish Israel for such an attack.

The poll also questioned Israelis on whom they preferred to see as the winner in this year's president elections. About half said they preferred to see likely Republican candidate Mitt Romney win, while the rest said they preferred Obama. However, those polled said they preferred Obama by a wide margin over the other Republican candidates.