Most Israelis See Trump's Planned Syria Withdrawal as Harmful

(Bloomberg) -- A majority of Israelis think U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to withdraw from Syria harms the Jewish state’s security, even while agreeing that Israel can defend itself, according to a survey published Thursday.

Almost 58 percent of those polled considered that a pullout -- which U.S. officials have signaled is likely to take far longer than Trump initially suggested last month -- would damage Israeli security interests. The figure was 61 percent among Jews and 41 percent for Arabs questioned. At the same time, 72 percent believe, as Trump has stated, that Israel is able to defend itself well.

In Israel on Sunday, U.S. National Security Adviser John Bolton said American forces would remain in Syria until the Islamic State militant group is defeated, as he sought to reassure partners that the U.S. remains committed to protecting its allies. Israel is concerned over the growing role of chief foe Iran in Syria, where it backs the government of President Bashar al-Assad.

Asked about Israel’s April 9 elections, 64 percent hoped for a right or center-right government, including 73 percent of Jewish Israelis, and 21 percent of Arab Israelis. Over half think Attorney General Avihai Mandelblit should announce before the election whether he plans to indict Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu in corruption cases, while 34 percent think he should wait until after balloting, in order not to interfere in the electoral process.

The Israel Democracy Institute survey questioned 600 people on Jan. 2-3, and had a 4.1 percentage point margin of error.

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