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(photo credit: AP)
Almost two-thirds of Israelis believe British Prime Minister Tony Blair is a "true friend of Israel," according to a recent TNS Teleseker poll commissioned by the British Embassy.
Asked if Blair was a true friend of Israel, 51 percent of respondents said they agreed with the statement and 12% said they strongly agreed.
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In his final speech as prime minister to a Labor Party Conference in Manchester on Tuesday, Blair promised, "From now until I leave office I will dedicate myself, with the same commitment I have given to Northern Ireland, to advancing peace between Israel and Palestine. I may not succeed. But I will try because peace in the Middle East is a defeat for terrorism."
The TNS Teleseker survey also found that Britain is seen by Israelis as the European country that is friendliest toward the Jewish state. At the beginning of the survey, respondents were asked to name the European countries they believed were friendly toward Israel. A quarter of them mentioned Britain first, and 34% overall said Britain was friendly toward Israel.
Forty percent said British policy was pro-Israeli, 27% said it was neutral, and 25% thought it was pro-Arab. A majority of Israelis (68%) believes that Britain's policy in the Middle East is based on current interests rather than on historical considerations.
Asked whether Israel could rely on Britain as a political ally, 7% said it definitely could, 16% said it could and 37% said it could to some extent.
The first thing that springs to the Israeli mind when asked about Britain is royalty: 24% of respondents mentioned the royal family, palaces, servants, changing of the guard etc. when asked what they associated with the UK. The next most popular associations were soccer (15%), London landmarks like Big Ben and the Tower of London (12%), and the British Mandate/War of Independence (10%).
Most Israelis see Britain as both a culturally diverse society (72%) and a tolerant society (63%). Just over half of Israelis see Britain as an important source of creative ideas (52%), while a third of Israelis have visited Britain at least once.
A total of 625 Israeli adults were polled between July 30 and August 1, during the war with Hizbullah. The margin of error was 3.9%.