Most Americans still view Israel favorably, according to a poll released Monday by Gallup. About 70 percent of those polled rated Israel favorably, a 2 percent decrease from last year. In sharp contrast, 17 percent said they favorably viewed the Palestinian Authority.
Israel's enduring popularity among the American public indicates that recent clashes between the White House and Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over U.S.-Iran nuclear negotiations and the 50-day conflict between Israelis and Palestinians in the Gaza Strip last year had little effect on U.S. opinion, according to Gallup. The United States' and Israel's mutual interest in stopping the Islamic State and Hezbollah terrorist groups could also explain why the American public continues to favor Israel, suggested Gallup.
The Gallup poll showed 62 percent of Americans would side with Israel over Palestine if forced to choose. Roughly 22 percent were neutral or favored both sides equally, and 16 percent said they would side with Palestine. American sympathies for Israel remain unchanged from last year's poll, but the Palestinians slipped from 18 percent favorability.
Gallup has been tracking the American public's opinion of the Palestinian Authority since 2000. The governing body based on the West Bank reached its peak among the American public in 2005, when 27 percent of those polled viewed Palestine favorably after Mahmoud Abbas was elected to succeed Yasser Arafat as president of the PA.
More than 80 percent of Republicans expressed sympathy with Israel, compared with 48 percent of Democrats. Republican sympathies for Israel have grown 35 percent over the last 20 years, while Democrats' and independents' support increased a more modest 10 percent and 21 percent respectively during the same period. The data showed that while Republican and independent support for Israel continued to tick upward from last year, Democratic support for Israel dropped. This may reflect backlash against House Speaker John Boehner's invitation for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu to speak to Congress about Iran next month as a sign of increasing partisanship surrounding U.S.-Israel relations, according to Gallup.
The poll surveyed 837 adults across all 50 states and Washington, D.C., Feb. 8 through 11.