Low support in Israel for unilateral attack on Iran

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 20, 2012 5:53 AM
Low support in Israel for unilateral attack on Iran

By Dan Williams

JERUSALEM (Reuters) - Israelis remain mostly opposed to any unilateral attack by their country on Iran even if international diplomatic pressure fails to curb its nuclear programme, an opinion poll suggested on Friday.

The survey commissioned by Maariv newspaper found only 19 percent of Israelis would support the go-it-alone strikes threatened by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's conservative government, while 26 percent thought military action should be taken - but only with U.S. backing.

Twenty-nine percent said the Jewish state should not attack at all, according to the poll, which asked what it should do if foreign sanctions do not deny Iran the means to make a nuclear bomb. Twenty-six percent said they did not know the answer.

The findings were largely similar to those of a survey published in March before the United States and five other world powers relaunched negotiations to try and rein in Iranian uranium enrichment.

Many in Israel and the West fear Tehran is working on developing nuclear weapons. But Tehran says it is only interested in generating electricity and other peaceful projects.

The talks have not borne fruit and Israel has accused Tehran of using them to buy time. Washington, which has not ruled out military force against Iran but has come out against the prospect of Israel launching a unilateral war, said this week both allies were "on the same page".

The Maariv poll had 506 respondents and a 4.5 percent margin of error.

Israel, which is believed to have the region's only atomic arsenal, says a bomb in its arch-foe's hands could threaten its existence.

But Israeli forces would face big hurdles in taking on Iran's distant, dispersed and well-defended nuclear sites, and in fending off likely reprisals from Tehran and its allies.

(Writing by Dan Williams; Editing by Andrew Heavens)