Support for Israel Rises following Palestinian Efforts to Avoid Peace Process

Washington, Nov. 10 – Support for Israel among the U.S. electorate has risen to 60 percent, the highest level since 2009, according to a new poll published today. This increase in support comes on the heels of stalled Palestinian efforts to avoid negotiations and unilaterally declare statehood via the United Nations.

Support for Israel is more pronounced among ‘opinion elites’ at 67 percent – the definition of ‘opinion elite’ is based on high engagement in foreign policy, education, and income. Also, the increase among the general electorate is driven by a 10-point rise in support among Democrats since June 2011. Support is relatively steady among Independents and Republicans.

Respondents characterize Israel as “one of our strongest allies” (68 percent) and a “democracy” (66 percent) while rejecting the notion that Israel is “extremist” (61 percent) or “responsible for the violence” (65 percent).

By contrast, Palestinians are considered “extremist” (56 percent) and an “obstacle to peace” (56 percent), but are not considered to be “victims” (55 percent).

U.S. voters cite women’s rights (28 percent), freedom of speech and voting (28 percent), freedom of religion (24 percent), and the threat of terrorism (24 percent) as the top reasons they are proud of America’s strong alliance with Israel.

Three-quarters (73 percent) of voters, and 86 percent of opinion elite support the idea of a two-state solution in the current situation, “with Israel as a homeland of the Jewish people and Palestine as the homeland of the Palestinian people.” Sixty percent of voters say that Israeli President Benjamin Netanyahu and Israel are committed to peace, while 52 percent say that Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas and the Palestinian Authority are not committed.

The poll found two-thirds (65 percent) view Iran negatively. There is strong support for varied actions, including supporting opposition groups in the country (82 percent), which can be taken toward Iran if they do not stop their nuclear program. Respondents listed support for Hamas and Hezbollah (30 percent), and statements that Iran’s government wants to wipe Israel off the map (28 percent) as top reasons of concern regarding Iran.

In a world of changing media consumption, TV news remains the top source of information regarding the Middle East (62 percent). But, the data clearly shows that newspapers have a higher influence among opinion elites (43 percent) than the general public (33 percent). And, voters under the age of 30 list the Internet as their top source of information on the Middle East (48 percent). However, note that 80 percent of those citing the Internet as a source of information say they primarily use mainstream media websites over social networking.

The survey was conducted by Greenberg Quinlan Rosner Research in conjunction with Public Opinion Strategies, October 30-November 2, 2011. Responses are comprised of 800 registered voters, and the margin of error is 3.46 percent.

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