Israeli voters are overwhelmingly skeptical about U.S. President Barack Obama’s promise to prevent Iran from developing nuclear weapons, according to a poll conducted for The Times of Israel.
Their lack of trust in the American president has worsened over the past year, as the U.S. and Iran approach an agreement that Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has repeatedly warned will be a bad deal.
Asked whether they trust the U.S. president to ensure Iran does not get the bomb, an overwhelming 72% do not, compared to 64% in a January 2014 survey.
Furthermore, of Israelis surveyed only 33% give Obama a favorable rating, while 59% rate him unfavorably.
Still, the president’s ratings aren’t much worse than those of several of Israel’s politicians, such as Netanyahu (41%/54%) or Isaac Herzog (38%/43%).
The skepticism crosses all ideological lines. Among undecided voters, the distrust is slightly deeper, with 17% saying they trust Obama to keep Iran from getting a bomb and 76% saying they do not.
Even among those voters who said they had a favorable opinion of Obama, 45% said they trusted him on Iran and 47% said they did not. Arab-Israelis were split evenly, with 42% saying they trusted Obama and 42% saying they did not.
The findings suggest that Netanyahu’s message that greater toughness and caution must be exercised in negotiating with the Iranians is accepted by most Israelis. However, for Netanyahu, whose electoral strength is largely linked to Iran and other security issues, the poll was less encouraging, insofar as how people rank those issues in importance.
When asked to choose the most important issue for the government to address among six options, just 10% of voters chose the Iranian threat. Among undecided voters, just 9% said the Iranian threat.
As other polls have shown, economic issues are of greatest concern to voters. Iran may be at the top of Netanyahu’s agenda, but it doesn’t seem to be at the top of the average Israeli’s agenda.