Americans Remain Staunchly in Israel's Corner

Yemen in a tent encampment in 1949  Reuters

Yemen in a tent encampment in 1949 Reuters

Eighty-eight percent of Republicans support Israelis over Palestinians, the highest level since the 2001 run-up to the Iraq War, when 77 percent felt the same way.

The Gallup Poll showed that 74% of the U.S. public views Israel favorably, the highest level since 1991, while 23% have a negative view of the country.

The general increase in support among Americans for Israel has been fueled largely an increase in support among Republicans, with a noticeable partisan gap emerging over the past two decades.

The findings matched 1991, the year Iraqi Scud missiles were launched against Israel, and 2013, when President Barack Obama visited the country.

Almost two-thirds of Americans, or 64%, say they are more sympathetic toward the Israelis than the Palestinians - "tying the high previously recorded in 2013 and 1991", Gallup noted.

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Fewer people than in the past, only 16%, have no opinion, the lowest percentage since Gallup began asking this question 30 years ago, and an indication, Saad wrote, that more Americans have taken a clear position on the dispute.

As expected from other polling on the subject, while sympathy for Israel is up slightly among Democrats and independents, Republican sympathy for Israel is at an all-time high at a whopping 87%, up from 81% just past year.

Backing for the Palestinians in the conflict also stood at a six-year high at 19%, marking "among the highest percentages favoring the Arab side of the conflict" since 1988, Gallup said.

Democrats' sympathy for Israelis, at 49%, is slightly higher than last year's 47%, but lower than the 58% Israel enjoyed in 2014 amid the last conflict between Israel and Hamas.

27% of Democrats, 21% of independents and 12% of Republicans view the Palestinian government favorably. When asked simply whether they viewed Israel favorably (rather than to choose a side in the conflict), large majorities of respondents said they did: "83% of Republicans, 72% of independents and 64% of Democrats view Israel favorably".

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According to the survey, 50% of Americans believe the USA should pressure the Palestinians more, while 27% think the Israelis should be pressured more, figures mostly unchanged since 2013. 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 survey also found that "Americans are about twice as likely to say the US 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".

These pro-Israel sentiments are particularly strong among Republicans and have been growing in recent years.

However, she added, "given Trump's past efforts at diplomacy, anything is possible".

The poll, of a randomized sample of 1,044 adults in all 50 states and Washington D.C., was conducted between February 1 and 10, 2018 - after US President Donald Trump's December declaration backing Israel's claim over Jerusalem. 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.

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