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Iran: Low Support Among Israelis For Solo Attack, New Poll Shows

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IRAN ISRAEL NUCLEAR
Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad tours a nuclear facility in Tehran. | AP

NEW YORK -- A new poll of Israeli public opinion found surprisingly low levels of support for a military strike against Iran -- and especially if Israel has to go it alone.

Just 19 percent of Israelis believe that Israel should strike Iran's nuclear facilities if it must do so without American support. A significantly higher number -- 42 percent -- support a military strike if Israel has American support. Thirty-four percent do not support a military strike at all.

The poll comes at a time when Israel seems increasingly primed to take military action against the nuclear installations of Iran, an action the United States has repeatedly indicated it does not support.

An Israeli parliamentarian recently told Reuters that he feared Israelis were not prepared for a war with Iran, which could possibly include a massive barrage of rockets and asymmetric attacks from Hezbollah and Hamas.

The poll, conducted by Shibley Telhami, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution and a University of Maryland professor, measured the opinions of 500 Israelis, with a margin of error of 4 percent. The opinions of Israeli Jews alone did not markedly differe from the broader Israeli views.

Asked about the likely outcomes of a military strike, most Israelis believed it would have a significant impact, with 44 percent believing it would lead to delays of three or more years to Iran's nuclear program. American military officials have said that military action is unlikely to fully prevent Iran from acquiring a nuclear weapon, but some Israeli officials have said that even if the program was delayed, the action would be worth it.

Thirty percent of Israelis polled said they believed a military strike would either accelerate Iran's nuclear program or have no effect at all.

The poll also offered a glimpse of Israeli views on American politics, something that has received some attention during recent Republican presidential debates. When Israelis were asked about their preferences in the upcoming election, only former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, of the possible GOP nominees, had support equal to President Barack Obama. Twenty-nine percent of Israelis said they supported each of them.

Obama outpolled both former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former House Speaker Newt Gingrich by wider margins: 32 percent to 25 percent versus Gingrich, and 33 percent to 18 percent versus Santorum.

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