EU poll: Israel ‘biggest threat’ to world peace

Over half of Europeans think Israel poses the “biggest threat to world peace,” according to a controversial poll commissioned by the European Commission.

The same survey has the United States beating out Iran, Iraq and North Korea – the trio dubbed the “axis of evil” by President George W. Bush – as well as Afghanistan in a ranking of what countries contribute most to world instability.

EUobserver.com reports the survey, conducted between Oct. 8 and 16 by Taylor Nelson Sofres/EOS Gallup of Europe, consisted of 15 questions regarding “the reconstruction of Iraq, the conflict in the Middle East and World peace.”

According to the website, the poll sparked controversy – not over its results, but over the release of its results. Namely, the European Commission was accused of suppressing the results revealing the extent of mistrust of Israel and the U.S. while the Bush administration was stumping for Iraq reconstruction assistance at the international donors conference in Madrid last week.

More than 77 countries participated in the conference that raised $33 billion in grants and loans, including $20 billion pledged by the U.S. and $812 million pledged from the European Union. Most of the funds will go into a trust to be managed by the World Bank, the United Nations and a committee of Iraqis.

The poll found 59 percent of Europeans believe Israel represents the biggest obstacle to Mideast and world peace.

A Commission spokesperson denied the decision to not publish some of the results until next Monday was politically motivated, explaining that the results withheld were still “unstable.”