Israelis' main fear is a nuclear Iran: poll

Date: 09-22-06

JERUSALEM (AFP) - Israelis are more worried about the prospect of a nuclear Iran than anything else, including their country's economic situation, according to an opinion poll published ahead of the Jewish New Year.

Asked the question "What disturbs you the most about the approaching New Year", 53 percent of respondents said an Iranian nuclear capability. The economic situation in the country came second place at 24 percent.

Israel, with its major ally the United States, repeatedly charges that Tehran has ambitions to produce nuclear weapon under cover of a civilian programme.

Iran denies any such aim and says it has the right to peaceful nuclear power.

Israel views the Islamic republic as its chief enemy, alarmed by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad's call for the Jewish state to be wiped off the map and his dismissal of the Nazi Holocaust as a myth.

The Jewish state is widely believed to be the only country in the Middle East to have a nuclear arsenal, estimated at 200 warheads, although it has never confirmed or denied it holds such weapons.

According to the survey published in Yediot Aharonot newspaper, three quarters of respondents said they were confident about the long-term existence of the state, while 23 percent said they were not confident.

Just under half of respondents, 43 percent, said their sense of security had become weaker over the last year. Half said it remained the same but only seven percent said it was stronger.

Seventy percent of respondents also rated the performance of Prime Minister Ehud Olmert as "not good" with 54 percent believing he should resign, mainly over the failures of the war against Shiite militia Hezbollah.

The poll, conducted by an independent institute, was based on a representative sample of 499 people. It carried a margin of error of 4.5 percent.


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