Poll: U.S. public sympathy for Israel at record high

The Gallup Poll showed that 74% of the US public views Israel favorably.

March 14, 2018 14:38
3 minute read.
People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally.

People hold U.S. and Israel flags as they chant during a Pro-Israel rally outside the Israeli consulate in New York November 19, 2012.. (photo credit: BRENDAN MCDERMID/REUTERS)


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Two months after a Pew poll led to much hand-wringing in Israel because it indicated a deep partisan split over Israel, Gallup released its own poll this week showing that American public support for Israel has never been higher.

Under the headline “Americans Remain Staunchly in Israel’s Corner,” Gallup – in an explanatory  article written by senior Gallup editor Lydia Saad on its website on Tuesday – wrote that “as the Trump administration prepares to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is reportedly finalizing its broader Middle East peace plan, Americans’ stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup’s three-decade trend.”

According to the poll, 64% of the US population say their sympathies lie more with Israel than the Palestinians, with 19% saying they sympathize more with the Palestinians.

This tied the previous high recorded in 1991, the year of the Gulf War when Scud missiles rained down on Israel, and in 2013 when president Barack Obama visited the country. The 45 point differential in this year’s poll between those saying they support Israel and those saying their sympathies are with the Palestinians is, however, less than the 52 point difference in 2013 and the whopping 57 point difference in 1991.

Fewer people than in the past, only 16%, have no opinion, the lowest percentage since Gallup began asking this question 30 years ago, and an indication, Saad wrote, that more Americans have taken a clear position on the dispute.

Gallup, like Pew, found a significant partisan gap, but far less pronounced than the Pew findings. According to the Gallup poll, 87% of Republicans sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians, though that number among Democrats is only 49%, representing a 38 point difference. In the Pew poll, there was a huge 52 point difference between Republicans and Democrats (79% vs. 27%).
The support of Independent voters is currently running at 59%, up from a low of 42% in 2001.

The Gallup poll showed the highest level of support ever among Republicans, and even among Democrats, it is an increase of eight percentage points from the low mark in 2005 – the year of the withdrawal from Gaza – when only 41% of Democrats expressed more sympathy for Israel. This is contrary to the widespread perception that Israel’s position among Democrats has never been worse.
The Gallup Poll showed that 74% of the US public views Israel favorably, the highest level since 1991, while 23% have a negative view of the country. The situation regarding the Palestinians is flipped, with 21% viewing the Palestinians Authority favorably, and 71% unfavorably.

The poll also showed that twice as many Americans believe the US should place more pressure on the Palestinians to solve the conflict (50%) than on Israel (27%).

According to Saad, “The broad contours of Americans’ perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain about the same under President Donald Trump as they’ve been in recent years. Most Americans view Israel favorably and the Palestinian Authority unfavorably, resulting in a strong tendency for Americans to sympathize with Israel in the territorial conflict and to call for greater diplomatic pressure to be placed on the Palestinians.”

With the pro-Israel sentiments particularly strong and growing among Republicans, Saad’s conclusion was that “to satisfy his political base, Trump’s options would seem limited to those that put minimal pressure on Israel over such thorny issues as the status of Jerusalem and the maintenance of Jewish settlements in the West Bank.”

 However, she added, “given Trump’s past efforts at diplomacy, anything is possible.”

The Gallup poll was conducted by phone interviews from February 1-10, with a random sample of 1,044 adults, and has about a 4% margin of error.

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