Britons dislike Israel more than Iran, new research suggests, following a surge in negative attitudes towards the country over the past two years, but North Korea is the most maligned nation outside of Europe.

In a survey conducted by think tank Chatham House on public attitudes towards other countries, 35 per cent of Britons said they felt “especially unfavourably” towards Israel, an increase of 18 per cent since 2012, while people’s unfavourable feelings towards Iran dropped from 45 per cent to 33 per cent.

North Korea beat them both however, with 47 per cent of Britons feeling “especially unfavourable” towards the nation led by Kim Jong-un.

The research, entitled ‘Internationalism or Isolationism? British attitudes towards the UK’s international priorities’ classed the top five least favourable nations as North Korea, Israel, Iran, Pakistan and Nigeria.

It was conducted during August 2014, which the researchers noted was at a time when “Israel was engaged in a military operation in Gaza against Hamas that caused large numbers of civilian casualties”.

The researchers suggested the prominence of this news at the time contributed to the increase in unfavourable feelings towards Israel.

For nations classed within Europe however, Russia was the most disliked at 56 per cent, followed by Ukraine at a significantly lower 23 per cent.

The results come at a time when there has been an increase in overt negativity towards Israel and the country’s president Benjamin Netanyahu.

CNN’s international correspondent quit his long-standing job on the network after he appeared to suggest that “Israeli propaganda” had played a hand in the brutal Charlie Hebdo terror attacks, while in the Philippines anti-Charlie Hebdo protesters held up burned images of Netanyahu and the Israeli flag with the message “Zionist conspiracy”.

source: Independent UK