70 Percent of Israelis Oppose Cease-Fire

The 34-day war against Lebanese Hezbollah guerrillas, widely seen here as just, had united Israel's fractured society. Hezbollah was considered a growing threat after it had vastly expanded its arsenal of missiles in recent years.

But the unity crumbled after Israel's fabled army pulled out of south Lebanon without crushing Hezbollah or rescuing two soldiers whose July 12 capture by the guerillas during a raid in Israel triggered the fighting.

The war began just two months after Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Amir Peretz, men with little military experience, took office. Surveys in two major Hebrew-language dailies on Wednesday showed low approval ratings for both.

A poll of 500 people by TNS-Teleseker showed support for Olmert sinking to 40 percent after soaring to 78 percent in the first two weeks of the offensive.

Peretz' approval rating plunged to 28 percent from 61 percent, according to the poll, which has a margin of error of 4.4 percentage points. A second poll, by the Dahaf Research Institute, showed 57 percent calling for his resignation.

The Dahaf poll, which had a margin of error of 4.5 percentage points, showed 70 percent opposed to a cease-fire that did not include the return of the captured soldiers, and 69 percent backing an official inquiry into the war's prosecution.

Under the truce, Israel is to withdraw from southern Lebanon, and 15,000 Lebanese army forces, backed by a similar number of U.N. peacekeepers, are to patrol the territory, which had been controlled by Hezbollah before the war. Critics of the truce question the ability of the new force to keep Hezbollah at bay.

Halutz's wartime decisions did not score him many points with the public: Fifty-two percent of those polled by TNS and 47 percent of those surveyed by Dahaf said they were dissatisfied with his handling of the fighting.

No comments:

Post a Comment