Americans Tepid on Palestinian Statehood
by Lydia Saad Gallup February 13, 2017
- 45% of Americans support, 42% oppose Palestinian statehood
- Americans still largely sympathize with Israelis in regional dispute
- Netanyahu continues to be viewed more favorably than unfavorably
WASHINGTON, D.C. -- As President Donald Trump talks about reaching a
peaceful resolution of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict that is "good for
all sides," a new Gallup poll finds the American public closely split over
one of the Palestinians' longtime demands -- Palestinian statehood.
Currently, 45% of Americans support establishing an independent Palestinian
state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip while 42% oppose it. This follows
years of significantly more Americans supporting than opposing Palestinian
Americans' support for an independent Palestinian state is essentially
unchanged from last year, but the percentage opposed is up five percentage
points to 42% -- the highest level seen in Gallup's trend. However, on a
proportional basis, the latest results are similar to 2015, when 42% favored
a Palestinian state and 38% were opposed. The main difference is that fewer
Americans today (13%) than in 2015 (20%) have no opinion.
As has long been the case, Democrats and Republicans have sharply differing
views on establishing a Palestinian state. Currently, 61% of Democrats, 50%
of independents and 25% of Republicans are in favor.
From a long-term perspective, Democrats' and independents' views have been
fairly steady, while Republicans' support has varied. Still, Republicans
have been consistently less supportive than Democrats, except in 2003,
coinciding with an effort by then-President George W. Bush to broker a peace
deal that involved Palestinian statehood.
The latest results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, conducted
Feb. 1-5. The same poll included an update of Gallup's long-standing measure
of Americans' "sympathies" in the Middle East conflict.
In response to the Gallup trend question, 62% of Americans say they
sympathize more with the Israelis and 19% with the Palestinians, similar to
the past several years. Another 19% express no preference, including 5% who
say they sympathize with both equally, 6% who sympathize with neither and 8%
who have no opinion.
More members of all three party groups sympathize with Israel than with the
Palestinians, but this ranges from 82% of Republicans to 57% of independents
and 47% of Democrats. By contrast, 6% of Republicans, 23% of independents
and 29% of Democrats sympathize more with the Palestinians.
Israeli Leader Maintains Favorable U.S. Image
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, whose support for Middle East
peace would be critical to achieving it, is viewed more favorably than
unfavorably by Americans, 49% vs. 30%. However, both of those ratings are at
high points, reflecting increased political polarization of his image.
Republicans' views of Netanyahu have grown more positive in recent years,
while Democrats' views have become more negative. And Netanyahu's appearance
before the U.S. Congress in March 2015 to warn U.S. leaders about the
dangers of the impending U.S.-Iran nuclear agreement was a watershed,
causing Republicans to view him more favorably and Democrats less favorably.
Since then, Republicans have warmed to him even more, while Democrats' views
have only partially tempered.
Currently, 32% of Democrats view Netanyahu favorably and 41% unfavorably.
That compares with 31% favorably and 31% unfavorably in February 2015,
before Netanyahu's speech to Congress. Meanwhile, Republicans' views of
Netanyahu are more positive today: 73% favorable and 11% unfavorable, versus
60% favorable and 18% unfavorable in February 2015.
Americans continue to sympathize more with Israel than the Palestinians in
the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and are now split over the merits of an
independent Palestinian state. But much of this is driven by Republicans,
who show extraordinarily high support for Israel and -- in contrast to
Democrats -- lean against Palestinian statehood.
As a candidate, Trump said he wanted to be the president who succeeds in
resolving the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, and he may start laying the
groundwork this week when he meets with Netanyahu at the White House.
Trump's recent caution about Israeli settlement expansion suggests he wants
to keep the two-state solution viable. However, in addition to the challenge
he will face in bridging the Israeli-Palestinian divide, Trump may face
resistance from rank-and-file Republicans. On the other hand, Republicans
may take Trump's lead and once again support statehood, just as they did
when Bush advocated it in 2003.
Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted
Feb. 1-5, 2017, with a random sample of 1,035 adults, aged 18 and older,
living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based
on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4
percentage points at the 95% confidence level. All reported margins of
sampling error include computed design effects for weighting.
Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 70% cellphone
respondents and 30% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by
time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are
selected using random-digit-dial methods.