Poll: Israel a partisan issue in US
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Poll: Israel a partisan issue in US

Bloomberg survey highlights growing shift in attitudes towards Jewish state; Republicans overwhelmingly favor Netanyahu over Obama

Supporters of Israel rally at the US Capitol where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was addressing a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2015 (Photo credit: Andrew Cabarello-Reynolds/AFP)
Supporters of Israel rally at the US Capitol where Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was addressing a joint session of Congress in Washington, DC, on March 3, 2015 (Photo credit: Andrew Cabarello-Reynolds/AFP)

US citizens are deeply divided in their attitudes towards Israel, a Bloomberg poll published Wednesday found, highlighting a growing partisan shift among Americans on the issue of the Jewish state. The shift, according to Bloomberg, may carry serious implications for US foreign policy and even domestic politics after decades of general bipartisan consensus.

According to the survey, Republicans believe the US should support Israel even when its stances diverge with American interests by a ratio of more than 2-to-1. Democrats, by roughly the same ratio, hold the opposite to be true, asserting that the US must pursue its own interests over those of Israel.

Sixty-seven percent of Republicans say they feel more sympathetic towards Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu than towards US President Barack Obama (and 16% say the opposite), while among Democrats 76% are more sympathetic to Obama than to Netanyahu (9% percent).

By a nearly 3-to-1 ratio, Democrats say they are more optimistic than pessimistic that the tentative deal with Iran announced earlier this month will contain the Islamic Republic’s ability to acquire nuclear weapons. Republicans are more pessimistic than optimistic about the effects of the deal by a 2-to-1 margin.

The survey, conducted April 6-8, included 1,008 adults and boasted a margin of error of +/- 3.1 percentage points.

Regardless of party affiliation, a majority of Americans agree that any deal with Iran must be subject to congressional approval, according to the poll. Most US citizens further believe that the fact Iran defines itself as a religious theocracy makes the Middle Eastern country an unreliable negotiating partner.

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has dismissed pressure from the US Congress over a preliminary deal on Tehran’s nuclear program, stressing that the Islamic Republic is dealing with world powers — not American lawmakers.

Rouhani spoke Wednesday in the northern city of Rasht, saying that Iran is pursuing a “dignified” agreement with the six-member group — the US, Russia, China, Britain, France and Germany.

The speech came after US President Barack Obama bowed to pressure from Republicans and Democrats and agreed to sign compromise legislation giving Congress the right to reject a nuclear deal with Iran.

Tehran and world powers reached a framework agreement earlier this month to curb Iran’s nuclear program in return for lifting sanctions. The deal is to be finalized by June 30.

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