Remain Staunchly in Israelís Corner
March 13, 2018
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
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
Republicans' Support for Israel
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
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
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
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
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
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%).
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
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