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Strong majority rates Israel ‘important’ to U.S. interest

WASHINGTON (JTA) — A strong majority of Americans views relations with Israel as extremely or fairly important to the U.S. national interest, a poll showed.

The Wall Street Journal/NBC poll published June 23 showed 39 percent of respondents said relations with Israel were "extremely important" and 26 percent said they were "fairly important" — a total of 65 percent.

Those answering "just somewhat important" counted for 25 percent of respondents and those responding "not important at all" were 7 percent, with 3 percent not sure.

Asked "Are your sympathies more with Israel or more with Arab nations?" 61 percent of respondents chose Israel, 12 percent chose Arab nations, 5 percent said both, 11 percent said neither and 11 percent were not sure.

Respondents also were asked about Israel’s deadly raid last month on a flotilla attempting to breach its embargo on the Gaza Strip, which is controlled by the Hamas terrorist group. They were given a choice between two statements, and told they could say they didn’t know enough to render an opinion.

Those agreeing with the statement, "Israel was defending its interests in Gaza and their military actions were justified," came to 34 percent, and those agreeing that "Israel went too far and their military actions were NOT justified" accounted for 29 percent. Those responding "don’t know enough" accounted for 32 percent, while those saying "a little of both" came to just 1 percent. Four percent were not sure.

The poll, by Peter Hart and Bill McInturff, canvassed 1,000 adults between June 17 and 21.

The poll had a margin of error of 3.1 percentage points; the margin of error for the flotilla question would be higher, as it was asked of just half the respondents.

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