WASHINGTON — A new poll on US attitudes toward a major conflict in the Middle East has found that nearly half of Democrats want the US to do more to support Palestinians, indicating a growing rift between Democratic lawmakers over the party. It is also reflected in the base.
Survey from the Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research Finds differences between both Democratic and Republican parties on American attitudes toward Israel and Palestinians, with liberal Democrats wanting more support for Palestinians and conservative Republicans wanting even more support for Israelis.
The survey also examined Americans’ opinions on the Biden administration’s handling of the Israel-Palestinian conflict. Last month, a ceasefire was surveyed for nearly three weeks after a devastating 11-day war between Israel and the Gaza Strip’s Hamas militant rulers. At least 254 Palestinians and 13 people in Israel were killed in the fighting.
The survey shows that Americans overall are divided about US policy towards Israel and the Palestinians. It also shows that more Americans reject President Joe Biden’s approach to the conflict than accept it.
Among Democrats, 51% say the US is not supporting the Palestinians enough. Sentiment jumps to 62% among Democrats who describe themselves as liberals. On the other hand, 49% of Republicans say the US is not supporting Israelis enough, that number rises to 61% among those who say they are conservative.
Paul Spelas, a 26-year-old Democratic-leaning independent voter and supporter of the Palestinian state, is a member of a heavily religious Texas Republican family whose support for Israel is linked to his Christian faith. Spelas of Austin says he closely followed the news of the Gaza war last month and the US reaction on the radio as he helped deliver the mail.
“I started paying too much attention,” said Spells, who said he rejected Biden’s handling of the conflict and thinks the United States supports the Israelis too much and doesn’t support the Palestinians enough. is.
“I don’t think Biden’s word was that strong,” Spells said. “And I don’t think, you know, this administration… can really do anything” in regards to the conflict.
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Overall, the survey shows that 29% of Americans say the US supports Israelis too much, 30% say it is not supportive enough and 36% say it is right. In its attitude towards Palestinians, 25% say the US is too supportive, 32% say it is not supportive enough and 37% say it is right.
Broad but irrevocable support for Israel has been a tenet of American domestic politics as well as its foreign policy for decades. Biden refrained from publicly criticizing Israel over civilian casualties and waited until the last days of fighting last month to openly pressure Israel to halt its airstrikes on heavily populated Gaza.
The war exposed differences between Democratic lawmakers and some Democratic lawmakers and Biden over Israel policy. Dozens of Democrats in Congress called for an immediate cease-fire to Israel and Hamas just days before Biden openly did. Sen. Bernie Sanders, a progressive Vermont independent, urged the US to be more equal in its approach to the conflict.
The poll found that 56% of Americans disapprove of the way Biden is handling the conflict, while 40% approve. While 75% of Republicans disapprove of how Biden is handling the conflict, so do 35% of Democrats.
Christina Elliott, 57, a Republican in the northeast Texas city of Atlanta, said the “new administration’s policies, its posture toward Israel, it’s completely different” to President Donald Trump. She said she rejects Biden’s approach to the conflict and thinks the US should support the Israelis more and the Palestinians less.
“Palestinians need to try as much as Israel does” into peaceful relations, Elliot said, and added Israel, “Oh my God, they are surrounded by enemies.”
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Forty-two percent of moderate Democrats say they disapprove of how Biden is handling the conflict, compared to 31% of moderates and conservatives.
That compares with just 9% of Democrats who disapproved of how Biden is handling his job in general. Overall, Biden has a job approval rating of 55%.
Since the ceasefire, Israel has transitioned to a new government that it says wants to improve relations with the Democrats and restore bipartisan support for Israel to the US. Former longtime prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu had openly challenged both Biden and President Barack Obama on US policy in the Middle East and saw himself as an ally of Trump.
Some of the respondents to the survey, both Democratic and Republican, cited the comparatively limited duration of the war – in comparison, 50 days of fighting in 2014 killed more than 2,200 Palestinians and 73 on the Israeli side. Saying that he approved of Biden’s handling of the conflict.
The survey also shows that just 19% of Americans think the US should play a major role in finding a solution to the conflict, while 50% say it should play a minor role and 28% say it should play a minor role. role should not be played. Democrats and Republicans largely agree on the size of the US role in the conflict.
A majority of Americans, 57%, say they think there is a way for Israel and an independent Palestinian state to peacefully coexist, while 39% say there is no way. 2 out of 3 Democrats think there is a way. Republicans are closely divided, with 50% saying there is and 45% saying there isn’t.
Patrick Diehl, another Democratic-leaning independent, cited US proposals to help rebuild Gaza’s buildings by Israeli airstrikes, “So, I think, they can be destroyed again. I feel kind of helpless.”
“You know, we need a stronger position by the administration—the emphasis is on real change rather than continuing with this wretched situation,” said Diehl, 74, of Tucson, Arizona.