Wed, Nov 05, 2003 - Page 6 News List

EU accused of prejudice after `peace threat' poll

REUTERS , BRUSSELS

Israel expressed outrage on Monday at a European Commission opinion poll that suggested more EU citizens see Israel as a threat to world peace than any other country including Iran, Iraq and North Korea.

Commission President Romano Prodi, visiting New York, said he was concerned about the findings and acknowledged they may indicate deeper anti-Semitic prejudice in Europe.

Israel said the survey, in which 59 percent of those polled said the country was a menace, revealed a "hidden agenda" by those asking the question -- the EU executive.

"They have put the Jewish state below the level of the worst pariah states and terror organizations," Israel's mission to the EU said in a statement. "We are not only sad but outraged. Not at European citizens but at those who are responsible for forming public opinion."

Prodi stressed that the Eurobarometer survey did not reflect the views or policy of the Commission.

"They point to the continued existence of a bias that must be condemned out of hand. To the extent that this may indicate a deeper, more general prejudice against the Jewish world, our repugnance is even more radical," he declared.

A Commission spokesman earlier played down the result as just one finding among many in a survey on Iraq and world peace.

"It is not our role or our policy to interpret each opinion poll or to base our policy on it," spokesman Gerassimos Thomas told the Commission's daily news briefing.

The question did not mention the Palestinians because it only referred to states, he said.

Around 500 people in each EU country were asked whether they considered 14 listed countries as threats to world peace.

Close behind Israel came the US, Iran and North Korea, each with 53 percent. Respondents were allowed to pick more than one country.

Fifty-two percent said Iraq was a threat, 50 percent said Afghanistan was.

The other countries -- Pakistan, Syria, Libya, Saudi Arabia, China, India, Russia and Somalia -- scored less than 50 percent.

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