Danes back Israel in conflict

Despite widespread international criticism, Israel's actions in the Lebanon conflict is supported by the majority of Danes

Danes staunchly support the Israelis in their current battle against Hezbollah, according to a new Gallup poll initiated by the daily newspaper Berlingske Tidende. The poll indicates that 57 percent believe Hezbollah is to blame for the conflict, while only 37 percent point the finger at Israel.

By the same token, 48 percent of Danes sympathise with Israel, while only seven percent support Hezbollah.

There is also a majority backing for the government's handling of the situation in Lebanon. Sixty-one percent of the Danish public supports the government's decisions not to move forces from Iraq to Lebanon as a peacekeeping force, and also its hesitance to criticise Israel more forcefully over the Lebanon situation.

'I'm happy about the support for the government's course in this complex conflict,' stated Minister of Foreign Affairs Per Stig Møller.

Social Democrats are not quite as pleased about the situation, where only one in five Danes support participation in a Middle East peacekeeping force.

'It could be that the poll indicates most Danes believe Lebanon would be a riskier operation, which it very well could be,' said Mogens Lykketoft, foreign affairs spokesman for Social Democrats.

This view is supported by the Gallup poll, which indicated that 68 percent of Danes believe that the US and EU cannot create a lasting ceasefire in the region. Only 16 percent think it is possible.

The Danish People's Party (DF), which has been the most outspoken supporter of Israel in the conflict, is surprised at the poll's results.

'We've had a long period where general opinion - including in the media - has been unsettlingly negative towards Israel,' stated Søren Espersen, DF's foreign affairs spokesman.

This does not mean Danes support the conflict in general: sixty-three percent believe that Israel should try and enter into a ceasefire agreement.

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