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(photo credit: AP)
Only 31 percent of Israelis consider the views of American president Barack Obama's administration pro-Israel, according to a Smith Research poll released Sunday, on the eve of the meeting between Obama and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu at the White House.
The poll of 500 Israelis, representing a statistical model of the Israeli population, was conducted last week following a string of reports in the Israeli media about condemnations of Israeli policies by US Vice President Joe Biden, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel and other senior Obama administration officials.
Besides the 31% who labeled Obama pro-Israel, 14% considered him pro-Palestinian and 40% felt he was neutral. The other 15% declined to provide an opinion for the poll, which had a 4.5% margin of error.
Obama's numbers contrast sharply with those of his predecessor, George W. Bush, whose administration, according to the poll, was considered pro-Israel by 88% of the respondents. Seven percent said Bush was neutral and just 2% labeled him pro-Palestinian.
Obama has yet to formally announce his policies on the Arab-Israeli conflict. He is officially in what he calls a "policy review period" that he'll conclude only after Netanyahu, Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak visit the US by the end of the month. He is expected to unveil his policies in a June 4 speech in Cairo.
The results of the Smith poll contrasted with the findings of a poll conducted by the Ma'agar Mohot company two weeks ago on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League and Bar-Ilan University, in which 60% of the respondents had a favorable opinion of Obama.
Nonetheless, the Smith poll found that Israelis consider the Obama administration much more pro-Israel than the governments of European countries. Among those nations, only the government of German Chancellor Angela Merkel was seen as being more pro-Israel (37%) than pro-Palestinian (21%).
Only 24% felt the government of Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi was given a pro-Israel tilt, with 26% saying it favored the Palestinians. The pro-Palestinian tilt was even more pronounced for British Prime Minister Gordon Brown's government (a 14 percentage point spread), Nicolas Sarkozy's government in France (a 17 percentage point difference), Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero's regime in Spain (a 42 percentage point split) and the government of Russian president Dmitry Medvedev (a 57 percentage point difference).
Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman reported being warmly received on his recent visit to both Germany and Italy. He is expected to visit Moscow next month in an effort to improve Israel's relations with Russia.