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Poll: Israelis Don't Trust Obama Foreign Policy


JERUSALEM, Israel -- Nearly three in four Israelis do not trust President Obama to conduct U.S. foreign policy in the Middle East. That is one result of a Knesset/Panels survey conducted just before the beginning of Yom Kippur.

Only 25 percent said they would describe Obama as a "true friend of Israel" as opposed to 62 percent who would not. Just 27 percent say Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas is a worthy partner for peace talks.

The poll was taken after a week in which Abbas accused Israelis of genocide during a speech at the U.N. General Assembly, and President Obama chided Israel in a meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu for the decision to go ahead with a two-year-old plan to build more apartment units in a Jewish neighborhood in southeastern Jerusalem.

The Knesset survey also showed Netanyahu's Likud party and other parties advocating strong security measures for Israel would make sizable gains if Israel held elections today. Likud's representation in the Knesset would jump from 19 to 27 seats in the 120-seat parliament, followed by the Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) party, with 18 seats.

Survey analyst Jeremy Saltan called the results "a clear response of Israelis to Obama's overrreaction and criticism of the Israeli government's continued building in Jerusalem."

With the prime minister still in the United States, a number of Israeli officials reacted angrily to criticism from the White House and the State Department over Jerusalem building plans.

Knesset official Ofir Akunis responded to a remark by State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki that the construction of apartments for Jews in Jerusalem was "poisoning the atmosphere" for peace talks.

"Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people for 3,000 years and building is not poisoning any atmosphere," Akunis said. "It is our natural and historic right to build in Jerusalem."

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