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Poll: Israelis Don't Trust U.S. in Iran Talks

Israelis do not believe they can trust the U.S. to ensure their security interests in the negotiations with Iran, poll shows.
By David Lev
First Publish: 11/14/2013, 11:54 AM

Bushehr nuclear reactor, Iran
Bushehr nuclear reactor, Iran
Reuters

With the U.S. and Israel increasingly at odds over the demands by the Palestinian Authority that Israel make concessions, despite the PA's refusal to budge on its positions, Israelis now say that they do not trust the U.S. when it comes to watching out for Israel's interests in negotiations with Iran.

Israel has been capitulating to American demands, ostensibly to encourage the U.S. and other countries to remain tough on Iran, according to many officials. On Wednesday, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu explained his canceling of tenders to be issued by the Housing Ministry for new construction in Judea and Samaria by saying that Israel needed to curry favor with the nations in order to stop Iran.

“At this time,” said Netanyahu, “the attention of the international community must not be diverted from the main effort – preventing Iran from receiving an agreement that will allow it to continue its military nuclear program. As a member of the Government, action must be coordinated and have the benefit of forethought."

But according to a poll by the Rafi Smith Institute presented Thursday on Israel Radio, the large majority of Israelis do not believe that the U.S. is looking out for Israel's interests – or that Washington is even being honest about what is really happening in the negotiations.

In response to the question, “Can Israel rely on the United States to ensure Israel's security in the negotiations with Iran,” 55% of Israelis said that it could not, while only 31% said it could.

Broken down to opinions on the left and right, 70% of those who defined themselves as right-wing said that Israel could not trust the U.S. On the left, less than 40% said it could. Speaking on Israel Radio, Smith said that the poll was one of several taken recently showing that Israelis in general do not consider the administration of President Barack H. Obama to be favorable to Israel.

In response to the question on whether the Obama administration is telling Israel everything it needs to know about the Iranian program, only 24% said that Washington was giving Israel an “accurate picture” of the state of the negotiations. Overall, 42% said that such information was not being supplied, with more on the right (57%) than on the left (30%) agreeing. Over one third of those polled said they did not know the answer to that question.

Regarding Netanyahu's outspoken criticism of the deal the West has been trying to put together with Iran, with an easing of sanctions against Tehran in exchange for an Iranian promise to reduce its level of uranium enrichment, 40% of Israelis said that Netanyahu's criticism was justified – with 77% of those on the right saying it was justified. Of those, 22% said that the criticism was justified, but preferred that the criticism be expressed more diplomatically.

Only 9% on the right said that Netanyahu should not be publicly criticizing the plan, the poll showed.