Poll: 47 percent of Israelis back Iran strike following nuke deal

AFP and Times of Israel Staff — July 17, 2015

Israeli Air Force F-16i jets in flight. Click to enlarge

Israeli Air Force F-16i jets in flight. Click to enlarge

Almost half of Israelis would support a unilateral strike to prevent Iran obtaining the atomic bomb, an opinion poll carried out after Tuesday’s nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers found.

Nearly three-quarters of respondents in the poll published by the Maariv newspaper on Friday said they thought the agreement would accelerate Iran’s development of a nuclear weapon, not prevent it as claimed by the powers.

Asked “Do you support independent military action by Israel against Iran if such action is needed to prevent Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon?” 47 percent said yes, 35% said no and 18% expressed no opinion.

Additionally, a majority of Israelis (51%) felt Jerusalem should use whatever means necessary to convince the US Congress to reject the deal, while only 38% said it was now time to engage with US President Barack Obama on the execution of the deal in order to achieve conditions preferable to Israel. Eleven percent said they did not know what the best course of action was.

Asked: “In your view, does the agreement that was signed bring Iran closer to obtaining a nuclear weapons capability?” 71% said yes.

The paper did not give a sample size or margin of error for the poll carried out by Panels Politics Polling Institute.

Israel has long opposed any deal with its arch-foe Iran, and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has lambasted the landmark agreement as a “historic mistake.”

He has repeatedly threatened to take military action if necessary to prevent Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Netanyahu has said Israel is not bound by the deal between Iran and the six world powers and on Wednesday said the agreement was “not the end of the story.”

Israel is believed to have the Middle East’s sole, if undeclared, nuclear arsenal. Iran has always denied any ambition to acquire one, insisting its nuclear program is for peaceful energy and medical purposes only.

Israel’s air force commander Major-General Amir Eshel said earlier this year that while the use of military force against Iran’s nuclear facilities would be an act of “last resort,” the military had “the genuine capacity to get the job done.”

The Channel 10 TV report in April said that Israel had invested “immense resources” in preparing for a possible strike on Iran. “The Israeli Air Force has been building the capacity to attack Iran for more than a decade,” it said.