Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has gained popularity with the American people ahead of his Tuesday address to Congress, according to a recent Gallup poll. Forty-five percent of respondents said they had a favorable opinion of Netanyahu -- a level of support Gallup hasn't seen for the political leader since 1998. Netanyahu's unfavorable score remained about the same since it was last measured in 2012, but fewer people had no opinion of him.
Netanyahu is scheduled to visit Washington, D.C., this week to express his concerns about ongoing nuclear talks between Iran, the United States and other world powers. USA Today reported that he wants to urge them against making a deal with Iran, which he sees as a major threat to Israel. To do so, Netanyahu is set to speak before a joint session of Congress on Tuesday -- a move that has proven controversial in part because Republican leaders planned the address without consulting the White House.
The party divide was evident in the Gallup results, as well. Republicans were more likely to see Netanyahu favorably, with 60 percent of them approving of him, 18 percent disapproving and 9 percent with no opinion. Democrats were more ambivalent, with 31 percent seeing Netanyahu favorably, 31 percent unfavorably and 21 percent with no opinion. Independents were firmly in the middle, with 45 percent seeing Netanyahu favorably, 23 percent unfavorably and 9 percent with no opinion.
Gallup reported that Netanyahu's standing has improved among all three of the major parties since 2012. Despite the disagreements over his visit to the U.S., public approval of the Israeli prime minister was as favorable as it had been during any Gallup survey on him since 1996.
But Wall Street Journal/NBC News results from this weekend told a different story. About half of registered voters said they disapproved of the Republicans' decision to invite Netanyahu to speak without asking President Barack Obama. Forty-seven percent of Republicans said it was OK, and only 12 percent of Democrats approved.
The Wall Street Journal/NBC News survey also saw less of a landslide in support for Netanyahu, with about 30 percent of Americans viewing him favorably and 17 percent unfavorably. This could be linked back to American news outlets' coverage of the prime minister's visit -- about half of respondents said they hadn't seen, read or heard anything about it in the media.
The Gallup poll surveyed 837 people between Feb. 8 and 11. The Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll surveyed 800 people between last Wednesday and Saturday.