Almost half of Jewish Israelis believe that Syrian President Bashar Assad will make good on his threat to attack Israel if the US and its allies take military action against Syria, a poll by the Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University taken last week found.

Among Jewish Israelis, 46 percent said they believe he would carry out this threat, while a smaller 42% thinks he will not.

Among Arab Israelis, 40% said they believe Assad would attack Israel, while 47% said he will not.

The Syrian regime has repeatedly warned that an American attack on its territory over the chemical weapons strike on the outskirts of Damascus on August 21 would have catastrophic results for the entire Middle East. Senior figures in the regime said they will respond by attacking Tel Aviv and that “Israel will be set on fire.”

US President Barack Obama said Saturday that while he believes his country has a case to strike Syria, he would nonetheless seek Congress’s approval for such military action.

On the question of the impact of an American-led assault, 54% of Jewish Israelis believe that the status of the US as a key player in the Middle East would be strengthened, while 21% believe the US status will not be affected, and just 14% believe it will be diminished. Among Arab Israelis, however, the numbers are very different: Only 26% believe the US status would be strengthened by a strike on Syria, 20% think it would remain unaffected, and 34% said it would be diminished.

The poll, called the Israel Peace Index was conducted on August 27 and 28, among 601 respondents constituting a representative sample of the Israeli adult population. The poll has a margin of error 4.5 percent. The remainder of the poll results, which do not deal with Syria, will be released Monday.

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