Poll: Most Americans say Republican invite to Netanyahu was mistake

According to the survey, 63 percent disagreed with the move, while 33 percent believe it was proper, CNN reported.

February 18, 2015 09:53
2 minute read.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu addresses weekly cabinet meeting in Jerusalem, December 28, 2014. (photo credit: EMIL SALMAN/POOL)

A solid majority of Americans say that the Republican leadership erred in inviting Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to address a joint session of Congress without informing the White House, a poll commissioned by CNN indicated on Wednesday.

According to the survey, 63 percent disagreed with the move, while 33 percent believe it was proper, CNN reported.

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The poll surveyed 1,027 American adults from all across the 50 states, with a margin of sampling error of 3 percentage points.

The survey also asked respondents whether “the United States should take Israel’s side, take the Palestinians’ side, or not take either side.”

Two-thirds believe that the US should take neither side, while 29 percent responded that Washington should back Israel. Just two percent said the US should take the Palestinians’ side.

The prime minister's speech has ignited a crisis in relations with the Obama administration, which believes that Netanyahu's goal is to undermine the president's foreign policy while driving a wedge between the White House and Democrats.

Despite the poll numbers, Netanyahu will have significant support from many Democrats when he gives his speech to Congress next month, visiting Republican congressman Robert Pittenger told the premier during a meeting on Tuesday.

The North Carolina representative, along with Republican congressman Dennis A. Ross from Florida, met with Netanyahu and discussed the upcoming speech and the flap it has aroused.

Pittenger said that a number of his Democratic colleagues have told him they will attend the speech.

A number of others, as well as US Vice President Joe Biden, have, however, indicated they will not be there.

Pittenger, in an interview with The Jerusalem Post, said that there was no reason for Netanyahu to cancel his planned address, and that his was a message that the American people needed to hear.

“Israel is on the front lines, fighting on our behalf against a terrorist state – Iran,” he said. “Believe me, he [Netanyahu] has enormous respect and love from the American people; they believe him.”

The controversy surrounding the speech, he said, was “misplaced attention.”

“In my opinion, he is the Winston Churchill of the day, warning the world about Iran,” he said. “Regrettably, [US President Barack] Obama is the Neville Chamberlain of our day, in denial of the enormous vulnerability we have to the potential nuclear capabilities of Iran.”

Pittenger denied that this issue has made Israel into a partisan matter that will harm the country’s interests in Washington in the long term.

“This has nothing to do with politics, but rather with the survival of Israel,” he said.

Herb Keinon contributed to this report.

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