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Poll: Little role for U.S. in Mideast clash

Americans split on Bush's handling, potential peacekeeping force

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Israel
Lebanon
Conflicts (general)
George W. Bush

(CNN) -- Nearly two-thirds of Americans believe the United States should stay out of the conflict between Israel and Hezbollah militants in Lebanon, according to a CNN poll conducted and released Wednesday by Opinion Research Corp.

Sixty-five percent of 633 American adults responding to the telephone poll said the United States should not play an active role in attempting to solve the issue.

Yet respondents were much more closely divided on whether they would favor the presence of U.S. ground troops as part of an international peacekeeping force on the border between Israel and Lebanon.

Forty-five percent said they would favor such a measure, and 42 percent said they would oppose it. Thirteen percent had no opinion. (Read the complete poll results -- PDF)

The margin of sampling error for the poll is plus or minus 4 percentage points. In addition, polls conducted in one day are subject to additional error not found in polls conducted over several days.

Fighting that broke out between Israel and the Lebanon-based militant group on July 12 has killed more than 200 people and wounded several hundred more. (Full story)

Respondents were divided on how President Bush has handled the conflict, with 45 percent saying they disapprove and 38 percent saying they approve, a split that falls within the margin of error. But many have yet to make up their minds -- 17 percent said they were unsure.

A majority of respondents said their sympathies in the conflict were with Israel.

Fifty-seven percent said they had more sympathy for Israel, compared with 4 percent who sympathized with Hezbollah, 20 percent who said they did not sympathize with either and another 4 percent who said they sympathize with both. Fifteen percent had no opinion.

Israel's military reaction to the situation has been about right, 35 percent of respondents said. Thirty-one percent said the response went too far. Only 14 percent said Israel has been too restrained militarily, and another 20 percent were unsure.

When asked whether a cease-fire should be negotiated, respondents were split, with 43 percent saying Israel should agree to a cease-fire as soon as possible, and 39 percent saying Israel should continue its military action until Hezbollah can no longer launch attacks.

The poll found relatively little fear that the conflict would lead to violence in the United States. More than half of respondents -- 51 percent -- said they were not more worried about a major terrorist attack in the United States. Thirty-five percent said the violence had increased their concerns about a homeland attack.

Despite complaints that the effort to evacuate many of the estimated 25,000 American citizens in Lebanon is moving too slowly, 53 percent of poll respondents said they believed the United States has done a good job evacuating its citizens. Twenty-nine percent said the job was poor, and 18 percent were unsure.

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