Poll: Israelis Don’t Support Unilateral Iran Strike

Pro-American rally in Tel Aviv.

A large majority of Israelis oppose a unilateral military attack on Iran over its nuclear program, according to a recent poll conducted by the Brookings Institute. A scant 20 percent of Israelis would approve of striking Iran without American support, and when the question is asked without the American qualifier, a majority of all Israelis and a plurality of Israeli Jews still oppose bombing Iran. What’s more, 46 percent of Israelis would support Iran’s production of “low level nuclear fuel that could only be used for producing electricity” — a circumstance some say could be an outcome of a negotiated deal on Iran’s nuclear program.

The poll results also show that just 23 percent of Israelis conclude that a hit on Iran’s nuclear facilities would set back Iran’s nuclear program by more than five years. A small percentage of Israelis, 24 percent, think America will join an attack on Iran if Israel has already done so. And not surprisingly, 88 percent of Israelis believe that it is very or somewhat likely that Iran “will eventually develop nuclear weapons.” Overall, 58 percent of Israeli citizens either strongly or somewhat support a nuclear-free Middle East.

The result on what Israelis think of war with Iran is in line with many other polls taken on the subject. Indeed, many former high-level Israeli officials have come out against a unilateral attack on Iran, echoing the Obama administration’s preference for a diplomatic solution. They have argued that an attack would only delay, not end, Iran’s nuclear program, could hasten Iran to obtain a nuclear weapon and also inspire support from the Iranian people toward the Iranian government. Other high profile former Israeli officials support direct discussions between the U.S. and Iran.

International Atomic Energy Agency director Yukiya Amano said earlier this week that a diplomatic solution on the Iran issue must be pursued “with a sense of urgency,” a position that the Obama administration appears to agree with. The White House, while stressing the threat an Iran with a nuclear weapon poses, has favors diplomacy to solve the stand-off while keeping all options on the table to deal with Iran’s nuclear program. The fact that U.S. and Israeli intelligence agencies believe Iran has not yet made a firm decision to build a nuclear weapon has allowed the administration to point out that there is time to allow a diplomatic approach to succeed.

Despite constant noise from the right wing in this country that President Obama is not sufficiently pro-Israel, the same Brookings poll also found that Israelis themselves appear to think otherwise. The survey found that 60 percent of Israelis have a “very” or “somewhat” positive view of the president, which is actually somewhat higher than the percentage of Americans that feel the same way.