Majority of Britons see Israel as key Middle East ally


Israel is seen as Britain’s leading Middle East ally by more than half of the British public, a poll has found.

Fifty-two per cent of Britons saw Israel as a key friend in the region, but only 19 per cent of the public feel “warm” towards Israel. Twenty per cent have positive feelings about Palestinians.

The pro-Israel attitude has moved up slightly from April 2011, when 17 per cent reported “warm” feelings.

The poll – commissioned by Bicom - also revealed that only 12 per cent back the singling out of Israel for boycotts, with 43 per cent objecting to such a move.

Almost half (47 per cent) of the British public believe a boycott, divestment and sanctions campaign against Israel would also hurt Palestinians.

Asked whether a BDS campaign would make Israel more likely to negotiate a peace deal, 23 per cent said it would. A quarter of the respondents said they would support a boycott of Israeli settlements.

Bicom chief executive James Sorene said: “There is very little support for boycotts against Israel, which demonstrates that noisy campaigns have failed to make any impact.”

The shared threat from Islamic extremists – towards Israel, Britain and the West – made “no difference” to the view of Israel for 54 per cent of the public.

The survey also revealed that Daesh (also known as Isis) was seen as a significant danger. Fifty-seven per cent of respondents saw the terror group as a threat to Israel and 71 per cent thought it posed a danger to Britain.

Ahead of the 2017 centenary of the Balfour Declaration, the poll presented the text of the historic document to those being questioned. When shown the declaration – expressing UK government support for a Jewish homeland – 40 per cent said that it was, in principle, the “right” position for Britain to adopt and to support Zionist aims, with 17 per cent opposed.

Mr Sorene said that ahead of the Balfour centenary, Bicom had been “keen to assess the level of support for the original British government policy of supporting a national home for the Jewish people. The result was fascinating.

“This comprehensive survey provides a unique insight into UK attitudes to Israel and it is striking that views remain very stable over the years.”

Populus conducted the survey online on October 17 and 18, questioning 2,007 people.

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