71% of US wants neutrality in conflict

Int'l poll shows majority blame both sides for continuing hostilities, back UN troop deployment.

UNIFIL 224.88 (photo credit: AP [file])
UNIFIL 224.88
(photo credit: AP [file])
Most people in 14 of 18 countries polled recently want their governments to refrain from choosing sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, including in the United States (71 percent). WorldPublicOpinion.org, managed by the Program on International Policy Attitudes at the University of Maryland, polled 18,792 people with a margin of error range of 2% to 4% for the survey released on Tuesday. Questionnaires were distributed from January to May, and the responses represent 59% of the world population. Overall, 58% of respondents said they wanted their respective country to take a neutral stance on the conflict, 20% favored the Palestinians and 7% the Israelis. Egyptians, Iranians and Turks supported the Palestinians, while Indians were divided on the issue. No country chose to stand by Israel. "[The results] signify that people have a high level of concern for the current situation," said Steven Kull, director of WorldPublicOpinion.org. "They want the conflict to be addressed." As for Israel's and Arab countries' effectiveness in handling the situation, both were seen as not taking constructive roles. Instead of having individual countries play a role in the conflict, most publics said that prefer the United Nations to mediate between the sides. Most respondents said the UN should send an envoy to keep the peace between Israelis and Palestinians, to stabilize the region and help advance a peace agreement. "It is rather striking that so few countries are taking sides in this conflict," Kull said. "They are taking an even-handed approach and they are looking for a way to be supportive. These [proposed UN] security guarantees are rather substantial and could potentially have significant costs. That really reflects [the respondents] level of concern and the desire to see a resolution."