American voters' support for both Israel and PA declines

83% of US voters believe Iran is a threat to them.

netanyahu leaves stage speech 248.88 (photo credit: AP)
netanyahu leaves stage speech 248.88
(photo credit: AP)
Support for Israel among American voters dipped slightly over the first half of 2009, but this was not accompanied by a rise in the single-digit backing for Palestinians, a new poll has revealed. According to a Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research poll conducted for The Israel Project last week, 49 percent of US voters consider themselves supporters of Israel, down from 57% in January. Just 7% see themselves as supporters of the Palestinians, down from 8% in January. Fully 31% are either undecided or support neither position. Support for Israel is currently higher than the seven-year low of 38% during the August 2005 disengagement from the Gaza Strip or the high of 69% measured in September 2008. Those who identified as Republicans showed the strongest support for Israel (65% to 3% for the Palestinians), followed by Independents (50% to 9%) and Democrats (38% to 9%). The survey, which covered 800 registered voters, seemed to indicate that Americans are beginning to be discouraged from supporting either party in the conflict. Asked who the United States should support, far fewer answered Israel than in January (from 58% down to 44%), while the figure for Palestinians was cut nearly in half (from 9% to 5%). The number of undecideds and those supporting "neither" side increased, rising from a total of 23% in January to 32% last week. Americans question the commitment of both parties to achieving peace, a skepticism that is nearly equally widespread regarding both the new Netanyahu government and the Palestinian Authority. This is true across the American political spectrum. Among Republicans, the belief that Israel's government is committed to peace dropped from 74% in March 2008 to 56% in June 2009, while among Independents and Democrats, the view that the Netanyahu government is not committed to peace has become the plurality, though by a slim margin (42% agree to 41% disagree among Democrats and 49% to 37% among Independents). A plurality believes the PA, too, is not genuinely seeking peace, but this figure has declined from 61% in March 2008 to 49% in the latest poll. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu may take comfort in the vast majority among American voters who reject a total return to the 1949-1967 Green Line. Some 57% of reject requiring Israel to withdraw from the entire West Bank, while just 23% support the move. The figures are almost unchanged from January 2009. Even among just Democrats, the figures are nearly two-to-one: 47% support Israel keeping some land for security purposes while 27% reject this idea. Couched in a different way, as a question on Israel's right to "defensible borders," support for Israel retaining parts of the 1967 conquests was extremely high among Republicans (64% support to 12% opposed), decreasing slightly among Independents (58% to 20%) and lowest among Democrats (45% to 33%), though retaining a clear majority for Israel in all groups. Americans support a two-state solution, believing it would make Israel more secure (55% agree to 30% disagree) and the region more peaceful (55% to 34%). But they are skeptical at the Palestinian response to Israeli overtures. Forty-eight percent believe Israeli support for a two-state solution and a freeze on settlements would not end Palestinian terrorism, while 39% believe it would. Nor do American voters believe their own terrorist threats will be reduced if Israel makes peaceful overtures. Asked if such a move would lead to a reduction in the threat of terrorist attacks on US soil, 63% said no and just 24% said it would. In keeping with recent polls showing similar figures among the French and British publics, American voters overwhelmingly view Iran as a threat to them, with 83% agreeing and just 12% saying the threat is "not serious." These figures are almost identical to polls taken throughout 2008. A similar number (84% to 7%) believe Iran is a genuine threat to Israel as well. A large majority support additional sanctions to prevent war with Iran (64% agree to 27% who disagree).