Shortly before he is to be sworn in as US president, a majority of Israelis expect Donald Trump’s attitude toward Israel to be “friendly,” while most Jewish citizens think Barack Obama’s during his tenure was not, according to a poll published on Tuesday.
The monthly Israel Democracy Institute and Tel Aviv University Peace Index found that 69 percent of Jewish Israelis believe the attitude toward Israel of the incoming president will be “very friendly” or “moderately friendly,” with that number rising to 74% among the Arab public.
Fifty-seven percent of Jewish Israelis said Obama has been “moderately unfriendly” or “not friendly at all,” with only 11% or Arab Israelis sharing that belief. Conversely, 22% of the Jewish public said the outgoing president had been friendly while 64% or Arab Israelis said the same.
While largely positive, compared with last month’s poll the new finding show a slight dip in belief by Israelis in Trump’s support of Israel.
In the December survey, over 80% of Jewish Israelis agreed with a recent statement by Israeli Ambassador to the US Ron Dermer that “Israel has no doubt that President-elect Trump is a true friend of Israel…. We look forward to working… with all of the members of the Trump administration… and making the US-Israel alliance stronger than ever.” Among Arab Israelis, “a very similar rate thinks US-Israeli relations will flourish during Trump’s tenure, though that expectation is not necessarily to this public’s liking,” the December poll said.
The January poll also assessed public opinion of how the December UN Security Council vote branding Israeli settlements illegal may affect Israeli and US government policy towards West Bank construction.
Asked, “In the wake of the Security Council’s resolution, in your opinion, should or should not Israel cease construction in the territories?” some 62% of the Jewish public replied that building should continue and 71% of Jewish respondents said that under the Trump administration Israel will be able to keep building in the settlements. In the Arab public that rate was even higher, at 81%.
The latest poll of 600 respondents — 500 Jewish and 100 Arab — also looked into the public’s position on the attitude toward Israel of Russian President Vladimir Putin. The prevailing opinion (41%) is that his attitude to Israel is neutral, with 26% of respondents saying his attitude toward Israel is unfriendly and 19% describing it as friendly. Among the Arab Israeli respondents, however, 55% said they regard Putin as a friend of Israel.
The poll was conducted by telephone on January 2-3, 2016, by the Midgam Research Institute. The margin of error was ±4.1%.