Most Israelis think Biden is worse for Israel than Trump was - poll

Israelis score US-Israel relationship at a five-year low, Lapid’s performance at 4.88 out of 10.

FORMER PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2017. (photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)
FORMER PRESIDENT Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu shake hands at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem in 2017.
(photo credit: RONEN ZVULUN/REUTERS)

A slim majority (53%) of Israelis believe US president Joe Biden is less beneficial for Israel than his predecessor, Donald Trump, a poll by the Mitvim Institute for Regional Foreign Policy found.

About a third of Israelis (36%) think there is no significant change between the administrations, and 11% believe the Biden administration is better for Israel.

The Israelis polled gave the US-Israel relationship a score of 6.46 out of 10, with only 35% evaluating it as good. This year’s score is the lowest it has been since before Trump was elected president. Last year, the score was 8.05 out of 10, with 67% calling it good.

Foreign Minister Yair Lapid’s performance received an average score of 4.88. The public scored Israel’s global standing at 5.58 out of 10, the government’s handling of foreign policy a score of 5.29 out of 10 and the Foreign Ministry a score of 5.23 out of 10.

A third (34%) of Israelis think Israel should focus on coalitions with Middle-Eastern countries to counter the Iranian threat, while 31% think Israel should focus on military action. Only 17% think it is worth supporting efforts to renew the Iran nuclear deal.

Following the US, Israelis rank Russia as the most important country for Israel’s foreign relations, followed by Germany, Great Britain, China, Egypt, France and Jordan.

Among foreign policy priorities for Israel, the public ranked coping with the climate crisis in the Middle East and the Eastern Mediterranean highest, with an average score of 7.5 out of 10; 30% of the public gave this issue a score of 10/10.

Promoting peace with the Palestinians came in last place out of the issues listed, at 5.64.

 PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett holds a mask during a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House last month. (credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST) PRIME MINISTER Naftali Bennett holds a mask during a meeting with US President Joe Biden at the White House last month. (credit: REUTERS/JONATHAN ERNST)

Israelis were evenly split on the question of whether the government should invest in improving relations with democracies (43%) or should not take the kind of government into consideration (42%).

However, 64% oppose selling technology to regimes that violate human rights, as opposed to 12% who think such sales should be allowed.

A year after the Abraham Accords were signed, 34% think the agreements are a turning point for Israel’s acceptance in the Middle East, while 31% think Israel’s status has not changed significantly. The rest did not know.

The United Arab Emirates and Morocco are the Arab countries that Israelis are most interested in visiting, at 10% each, followed by Lebanon (7%), Egypt (6%), Saudi Arabia (3%) and Jordan (3%). About half (48%) of Israelis do not want to visit any Arab country, up from 42% last year.

Almost half (46%) of Israelis view the EU as adversarial to Israel, while only 24% view it as a friend.

Only 9% of Israelis think the government is handling Gaza well; 31% think Israel should try to bring the Palestinian Authority back in control of the Gaza Strip, while 22% think the international community should be enlisted for Gaza’s economic rehabilitation – similar to Lapid’s plan – and 13% favored negotiations with Hamas for a long-term settlement.

When it comes to the PA’s economic and political crisis, 38% of Israelis think Israel should not be involved, 28% think Israel should act to strengthen the PA and 13% think Israel should weaken the PA.

About half of Israelis think that meetings between Israeli ministers and their Palestinian counterparts are not a positive development; 30% think it is merely symbolic, and 17% think it is negative and harms Israeli interests. Only 32% think the meetings are positive and will improve relations between Israel and the Palestinians.

The Mitvim Institute’s poll was taken in September 2021 among a representative sample of the Israeli population, consisting of 700 men and women, Jewish and Arab, with a reported 3.5% margin of error.

The poll was conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute, in collaboration with the Friedrich Ebert Stiftung Foundation.