Then-candidate Donald Trump speaking at the AIPAC 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 2016. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-Saul Loeb)
Then-candidate Donald Trump speaking at the AIPAC 2016 Policy Conference in Washington, D.C., March 2016. (Photo/JTA-Getty Images-AFP-Saul Loeb)

Democrat-Republican split on Israel is widest in 40 years, poll finds

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The gap between how Republicans and Democrats view Israel is widening, a Pew Research Center poll found.

The poll posted Jan. 23 showed 79 percent of Republicans sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians, whereas 27 percent of Democrats do so. Pew said this was the widest divide since 1978. The poll showed that 42 percent of Independents sympathize with Israel more than Palestinians.

This year’s poll also showed that 6 percent of Republicans sympathize more with Palestinians vs. 25 percent of Democrats.

Overall, 46 percent of Americans sympathize more with Israel, an overall balance that has been roughly the same since 1978.

The drop among Democrats has been especially sharp in recent years. In April 2016, 43 percent of Democrats said they were likelier to sympathize with Israel. The rise among Republicans also has been sharp: In 2001, 50 percent of Republicans said they sympathize more with Israel.

Those interviewed were asked how they rated the Trump administration’s policies in the Middle East. Forty-two percent said Donald Trump is “striking the right balance,” while 30 percent said he favors Israel too much (just 3 percent say Trump sides too much with the Palestinians; 25 percent do not offer an opinion).

At a similar point in Barack Obama’s presidency, 47 percent of Americans said he had struck a proper balance in dealing with the Middle East; 21 percent said he sided too much with the Palestinians, while 7 percent said he favored Israel too much.

Differences were also sharp in how the respondents view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Among Republicans, 52 percent view the Israeli leader favorably and 15 percent view him unfavorably. Among Democrats, it was 18 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable. With Independents, it was 31 percent favorable and 28 percent unfavorable.

Netanyahu openly clashed with Obama, a Democrat, and has warmly welcomed the presidency of Trump, a Republican.

The telephone poll reached 1,503 adults between Jan. 10 and 15. The margins of error were 2.9 percentage points overall, 5.7 points for Republicans, 5.1 points for Democrats and 5 points for Independents.

JTA

Content distributed by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency news service.