Americans Remain Staunchly in Israelís Corner

Gallup Poll

March 13, 2018

 

 

STORY HIGHLIGHTS

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As the Trump administration prepares to move the U.S. embassy in Israel to Jerusalem and is reportedly finalizing its broader Middle East peace plan, Americans' stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is as strongly pro-Israel as at any time in Gallup's three-decade trend. Sixty-four percent say their sympathies in the dispute lie more with the Israelis, tying the high previously recorded in 2013 and 1991.

Americans' Sympathies Continue to Be More With the Israelis Than With the Palestinians

Just 19% of Americans today sympathize more with the Palestinians than with the Israelis, slightly higher than the 15% in Gallup's initial 1988 measurement and ranking among the highest percentages favoring the Arab side of the conflict in Gallup's trend.

Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who sympathize with neither side, with both sides or who have no opinion about the Palestinian-Israeli conflict is now 16%, the lowest to date. This neutral category has been shrinking as more Americans take positions on the dispute.

Republicans' Support for Israel Climbs Higher

Republicans account for much of the overall increase in sympathies for Israel since 2001, although both Democrats and political independents are also slightly more sympathetic toward the country.

Republicans' Sympathies With the Israelis Consistently Outpace Those of Other Party Groups

Republicans have consistently shown greater support than Democrats for Israel, partly because of conservative Christians' beliefs about the biblical significance of Israel. Another key factor in the especially wide gap since 2002 is likely Israel's strong backing of the United States at the start of the Iraq War in 2003 and the strong support that Republican President George W. Bush showed for the Jewish state.

Americans Would Lean More on the Palestinians to Make Peace

Americans are about twice as likely to say the U.S. should put more pressure on the Palestinians (50%) than on the Israelis (27%) to resolve the conflict between the two peoples, similar to views in 2013. However, this differs from 2007 and 2008, when Americans were more divided on which side should receive more pressure, and at least 11% volunteered that the U.S. should be putting more pressure on both sides.

U.S. leverage in the Middle East has historically come from its military aid to Israel and humanitarian aid to the Palestinians, as well as its strong leadership role globally. How much leverage the U.S. still has is an open question, given Palestinian leaders' loss of faith in the United States' ability to be an honest peace broker with Israel since the Jerusalem decision, and a recent slide of the United States' international reputation.

Favorable Views of Israel at 17-Year High

Israel and the Palestinian Authority have nearly reverse images in the U.S., further underscoring Americans' partiality for Israel in the Mideast conflict. Currently, 74% of U.S. adults view Israel favorably and 23% view it unfavorably, whereas 21% view the Palestinian Authority favorably and 71% unfavorably.

Israel's current favorable score is the highest for that country since 1991, when its favorable rating spiked to 79% shortly after Iraqi Scud missiles struck Israel during the Gulf War.

Although the Palestinian Authority's image is significantly worse than Israel's, this is the second consecutive year its favorable rating has been above 20%, after six years of readings below that level.

Wide Gulf Persists in Favorable Images of Israel and

Again, party differences in these attitudes are notable, with Republicans more positive than Democrats about Israel and Democrats more positive than Republicans about the Palestinian Authority.

Beyond party and consistent with Gallup previous findings by age, Israel also receives higher favorable ratings from adults 55 and older (80% favorable) than from those 35 to 54 (72%) or 18 to 34 (65%). Conversely, the Palestinian Authority receives somewhat better ratings from adults 18 to 34 (31% favorable) than from those 35 to 54 (15%) or 55 and older (18%).

Bottom Line

The broad contours of Americans' perspectives on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict remain about the same under President Donald Trump as they've been in recent years. Most Americans view Israel favorably and the Palestinian Authority unfavorably, resulting in a strong tendency for Americans to sympathize with Israel in the territorial conflict and to call for greater diplomatic pressure to be placed on the Palestinians.

These pro-Israel sentiments are particularly strong among Republicans and have been growing in recent years. Thus, to satisfy his political base, Trump's options would seem limited to those that put minimal pressure on Israel over such thorny issues as the status of Jerusalem and the maintenance of Jewish settlements in the West Bank. However, given Trump's past efforts at diplomacy, anything is possible. The current data at least serve as a baseline for evaluating any changes to Israel's and the Palestinians' U.S. images after they respond to whatever Trump and his team propose.