An Israeli flag flutters as a military vessel leaves the navy port of Ashdod in southern Israel on June 5, 2010
Credit: David Buimovitch

Most Germans think Israel is "aggressive," a new survey has found.

According to a poll commissioned by German magazine Stern, 59 percent of the 1,002 people asked perceived Israel as aggressive, up from 49 percent in 2009. Just 36 percent had a very positive view of the Jewish state, 9 percent less than three years ago.

Meanwhile 70 percent believed Israel pursued its interests without regard for other countries.

Only 21 percent agreed with the statement that Israel respects human rights.

And 60 percent said that Germany had no special obligation to Israel. Sixty-five percent wanted Germany to recognize a Palestinian state – though only a small minority, 13 percent, questioned Israel's right to exist.

More from GlobalPost: German author calls Israel 'threat to world peace'

The findings come as German President Joachim Gauck prepares to visit Israel and the Palestinian territories from May 28 to 31, Agence France Presse said.

German Nobel laureate Günter Grass caused recently caused outcry in Germany and Israel alike with his poem 'What Must Be Said,' which described Israel as a threat to world peace for its stance toward Iran.

The author was subsequently banned from entering Israel, a move which he denounced as the mark of an authoritarian state

Israel also ranks low in similar international surveys. According to a recent poll conducted by Globescan in 22 different countries, Israel was one of the four most negatively perceived nations, along with North Korea, Pakistan and Iran.

Germany, meanwhile, was the second most popular country behind Japan.

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