US Israel support highest since 1991

78% have negative opinion of PA; 23% view Israel unfavorably.

capitol night  (photo credit: CNN)
capitol night
(photo credit: CNN)
After Hamas's victory in the Palestinian elections, the American public's support for Israel has risen to its highest point since the 1991 Gulf War. The percentage of Americans who have unfavorable views of the Palestinians has also reached an all-time high. These findings were part of an extensive Gallup poll that examined the views of Americans on world affairs. The poll, which was conducted after it was clear that Hamas won the majority of seats in the Palestinian parliament, found that most Americans are against the US having diplomatic relations with a Hamas-led Palestinian Authority if it does not recognize Israel, and more than half of the respondents think the US should not give financial aid to the Palestinians even if Hamas agrees to recognize Israel. The poll, which is conducted annually, has consistently found that the US public tends to side with Israel more than with the Palestinians. In the latest poll this trend continued, with 59 percent of respondents saying they sympathize with Israel and only 15% saying they sympathize with the Palestinians. Last year, those numbers stood at 52% and 18%, respectively. Sympathy for Israel is at the highest point since the Gulf War in 1991, when it stood at 64% during the Scud missile firings. The closest it approached this point since then was in late 2002, when 58% sympathized more with the Israelis. 68% of respondents viewed Israel favorably, this year's poll showed, while 23% viewed it unfavorably. These numbers, virtually unchanged since last year, are also at their most favorable since 1991. Asked separately how they viewed the PA, a record-high 78% said they had a negative opinion, an increase of 14 percentage points since last year. Only 11% have a favorable opinion of the PA, slightly more than one-third of last year's number. Both of these are the most negative numbers since polling about the PA began in 2000. Gallup polled 1,002 adults 18 and older between February 6-9. The margin of error was plus or minus 3%. The poll found a direct link between negative opinions of the PA and the Hamas victory in the January elections. Among those respondents who were aware of Hamas's win, there was greater sympathy to Israel and less support for the Palestinians. Out of the Americans who knew the results of the elections, only 8% said they view the PA favorably, as opposed to 15% among those who did not. Similarly, sympathy for Israel increased by 15 percentage points among those who knew of the Hamas win, and those who held a favorable view of Israel increased by 17 percentage points. The poll found the American public pessimistic about the chances for peace in the Middle East. While a year ago the public was evenly split on the question of whether "there will come a time when Israelis and Arabs will settle their differences and live in peace," the current poll showed that two-thirds of the Americans answered negatively and only a third believe that there will eventually be peace in the Middle East.