Minority of Israelis support action against Iran without US support

Poll finds range of opinion across Israeli public with a third opposed to any action against Tehran over nuclear facilities

A third of Israelis are opposed to military action by their government against Iran’s nuclear facilities but one in five favour unilateral action without the backing of the US, according to a poll commissioned by the University of Maryland.

Reflecting a range of opinion among the Israeli public – which is mirrored in the political and military establishment – the poll found that 42% of respondents supported a strike only with US backing.

It was released just days before a crucial meeting between the Israeli prime minister, Binyamin Netanyahu, and the US president, Barack Obama, at which the issue of military action against Iran will top the agenda.

“Israeli leaders may decide to strike without US support, but a detailed analysis of the poll suggests that their public wants them to follow Washington’s lead, and Israelis appear to be influenced by America’s judgment,” said the university’s Shibley Telhami.

The issue of Iran and possible Israeli action has dominated the local media for the past few months. Leading politicians, military and former intelligence figures have publicly debated the merits of a strike, resulting in warnings that such “chatter” is counter-productive and potentially dangerous.

The poll found respondents almost equally divided over whether a strike would strengthen the Tehran regime (44%) or weaken it (45%). Israelis were also divided on how long they thought an ensuing war would last, with 18% saying days, 29% months, and 22% years.

Meanwhile, the Israeli daily Ma’ariv reported that most gas mask distribution centres were to close on Thursday as stocks were running out, with more than a third of the population still without protection. It quoted Home Front officials as saying it would take two years to manufacture enough kits for the whole population.

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from Harriet Sherwood

via http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/iran-blog/2012/mar/01/israel-iran-action

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