Most Democrats consider Israel ‘a burden’ on US with too much influence on policy, poll claims
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Most Democrats consider Israel ‘a burden’ on US with too much influence on policy, poll claims

Brookings Institution survey also asserts growing American support for punitive measures against Israel over settlements, and a plurality backing pressure by Obama on Israel at UN

US President Barack Obama speaks during the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum in Washington, December 7, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)
US President Barack Obama speaks during the Brookings Institution's Saban Forum in Washington, December 7, 2013 (photo credit: AP/Jacquelyn Martin)

Most Democrats consider Israel to be a burden to the United States, according to the published findings of a poll released by the Brookings Institution on Friday.

The survey found a clear majority of Americans (76%) said Israel was “a strategic asset” to the US, its authors said. At the same time, they said, “a majority of Democrats, 55%, say that Israel is also a burden”; among Republicans, 24% consider Israel a burden. Fifty-two percent of Independents do not consider Israel a burden and 41% think it is.

The findings were among the results of twin surveys conducted by the think tank’s Shibley Telhami before and after the November 8 presidential elections.

Overall, “slightly more than half of Americans (54%) disagree with the concept of Israel being a burden to the US as Israel’s actions in the region generate hostility toward the United States in Arab and Muslim-majority countries whereas 40% of Americans feel this way,” the survey’s authors said.

The full questions respondents were asked on these issues ran as follows: “Generally speaking, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements on the U.S.-Israeli relationship? Israel is an important ally to the United States as it provides essential military and intelligence cooperation and plays a regional role that’s helpful to American interests.” And, “Generally speaking, how much do you agree or disagree with the following statements on the U.S.-Israeli relationship? Israel is a burden to the U.S. as Israel’s actions in the region generate hostility toward the United States in Arab and Muslim-majority countries.”

The surveys also showed 55% of Democrats believe Israel has too much influence on American politics and policies, while 54% of Republicans think Israel has the “right level” of influence.

The surveys also found that the percentage of Americans supporting sanctions against Israel over its settlement policy grew by 9 percent over the past year and now stands at 46%.

The West Bank settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah on November 27, 2012. (Oren Nahshon/FLASH90)
The West Bank settlement of Beit El, north of Ramallah. (Oren Nahshon/FLASH90)

Support for punitive measures against Israel over the issue has increased among members of both major parties: 60% of Democrats and 31% of Republicans back economic sanctions and more serious action, compared to 49% and 26% in November 2015.

The surveys showed that 46% of Americans would support action by President Barack Obama at the UN designed to pressure Israel over stalled peace negotiations with the Palestinians. Only 27% would oppose such a move, while 25% were neither for or against such a measure.

On Thursday US officials said Obama has nearly ruled out any such last-ditch effort, which would have been perceived as constraining Israel’s negotiating hand while strengthening the Palestinians’ argument on the world stage.

Meanwhile the gap between Democrats and Republicans continues to widen on the question of American support for a potential UN resolution endorsing Palestinian statehood. Democratic support for such action stands at 51% (up from 39% last year) while Republican opposition has increased to 51% (up from 43% last year). Overall 31% of respondents said the US should oppose such a UN resolution while 34% would support it, and 32% backed abstention.

While a majority of Americans (57%) said they would like President-elect Donald Trump to be an impartial mediator between Israel and the Palestinians, 57% also said they believed Trump would lean towards Israel in any negotiations.

The polls were conducted between October 5-14 and November 18-23, 2016. They involved 2,570 respondents and had margins of error of 2.5%-3.04%.

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