Some 70 percent of Jewish Israelis believe a victory for Donald Trump over Joe Biden in the US presidential election would be preferable for the Jewish state, an opinion poll indicated on Monday.
The Israel Democracy Institute survey, released a day before the US election day, asked whether Republican incumbent Trump or his Democratic challenger Biden is the preferred candidate, “from the standpoint of Israel’s interests.”
Among Israeli Jews, 70% said Trump is the preferred candidate, 13% said Biden, and 17% don’t know.
Support for Trump was markedly lower among Arab Israelis, with 36% saying he was the preferred candidate, 31% saying Biden, and 33% saying they didn’t know.
Among all Israelis, 63% favor Trump, 17% Biden and 20% don’t know.
Broken down by political camp, 82% of right-wing poll respondents, 62% of centrists, and 40% percent of left-wingers said Trump is the better candidate for Israel.
If Biden wins the race, 42% of Israeli Jews believe the US-Israel bond will weaken, with only 7% saying it will strengthen. Among Arab Israelis, those figures were 24% and 16%, respectively.
“Presumably this pronounced preference among the Jewish public for Trump to keep serving stems to a large extent from the assessment that Biden’s election would weaken US-Israeli relations, and strengthen the relationship between Washington and the Palestinians,” IDI said.
The survey polled 611 men and women in Hebrew and 150 in Arabic, constituting a representative national sample of the population of Israel, with a margin of error of +/- 3.7%.
Trump has been viewed by many as one of the most pro-Israel US presidents ever.
The Trump administration has used the final months of the campaign to further seek support from pro-Israel Jewish and Evangelical Republican voters. In just this past week, the State Department updated its policy to allow US citizens born in Jerusalem to list Israel as their country of birth on passports and US Ambassador to Israel David Friedman signed an agreement with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu extending US scientific cooperation to apply as well in the West Bank — a move viewed by many as a first step toward American recognition of Israeli sovereignty over the settlements.
But opposition leader Yair Lapid on Monday said that whoever wins, “the next president of the United States will be a friend of Israel.”
“Both Donald Trump and Joe Biden are friends of Israel, with a deep commitment to Israel and to Zionism,” Lapid said in a statement, while adding he had seen hostile “radical voices” growing stronger within the Democratic Party.
Several rabbis, including Haim Druckman, an influential former member of the National Religious Party, have urged US citizens in Israel to vote for Trump.
And on Monday evening around 150 Trump supporters waving US and Israeli flags rallied in the city of Beit Shemesh south of Jerusalem, where many Israeli-Americans live.
The Trump administration has also sought to expand the list of Arab and Muslim-majority countries to normalize relations with Israel in the final months of its current term. Last Friday, Sudan agreed to become the third country to do so in recent months. Sudan followed the lead of the United Arab Emirates and Bahrain after weeks of pressure from Washington, which conditioned removing Khartoum from its blacklist of state terror sponsors on Sudan making peace with the Jewish state.
These moves follow decisions by the Trump administration to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, transfer the US embassy there, recognize Israeli sovereignty over the Golan Heights, scrap previous policy deeming settlements to be illegal, release a peace plan widely deemed to be the most favorable to Israel yet, take a far more combative approach toward the Palestinians than previous administrations and pull out of the Iran nuclear deal, which the Netanyahu government opposed aggressively.
On the other hand, Trump’s critics point out that he has turned the issue of Israel into a political football when for decades the bipartisan nature of support for the Jewish state had been touted as something that kept Israel more secure. Polls of Jewish voters in the US show that at least two-thirds prefer Biden over Trump, many of whom blame the president for the rise in white nationalism in the US, which has seen Jews targeted in record numbers of anti-Semitic attacks.
Moreover, these more dovish voters are less supportive of the Israeli settlement enterprise in the West Bank and tend to oppose moves the Trump administration has taken to solidify the Israeli presence there at the expense of efforts to reach a two-state solution.