81% of young Americans back Biden’s response to Gaza violence, poll finds

Democratic Sen. Chris Murphy pushes back at notion that his party has shifted position on Israel: ‘Democrats believe in a two-state future; Israel’s politics have moved, not ours’

Jacob Magid is The Times of Israel's US correspondent based in New York

US President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony to present the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)
US President Joe Biden speaks during a ceremony to present the Medal of Honor to U.S. Army Col. Ralph Puckett in the East Room of the White House, Friday, May 21, 2021, in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon)

A majority of registered voters in the US approve of US President Joe Biden’s handling of the recent violence between Israel and Hamas, according to a new poll published Friday.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted on May 14-15, five days before a ceasefire was reached early Friday morning.

Since the beginning of Operation Guardian of the Walls, the Biden administration took a firm stance in favor of Israel’s right to defend itself against Hamas rocket fire, including blocking several United Nations Security Council statements.

That position held throughout the entire 11-day conflict, but about mid-way through the US picked up its efforts aimed at reaching a ceasefire after giving Israel several days to target Hamas infrastructure.

Fifty-six percent of registered voters indicated they approve of Biden’s handling of the recent violence, while 44% said they disapproved, the poll said.

The numbers changed drastically based on age group: 50% of 50-64 year-olds approved of Biden’s handling of the Gaza violence; 56% of 35-49 year-olds approve; and 81% of 18-34 year-olds approve.

Roughly eight in 10 Democratic voters approved of Biden’s handling, along with 69 percent of independents. Seventy-seven percent of Republicans said they disapproved of Biden’s handling of the issue.

The poll did examine which aspects of Biden’s policies the respondents approved of, nor did it try to explain the age shift.

The Hill-HarrisX poll was conducted online among 932 registered voters. It had a margin of error of 3.2 percentage points.

Meanwhile, Democratic Senator Chris Murphy, a Biden-ally, pushed back  Friday against the growing narrative that his party is moving to the left on Israel.

Democratic US Senator Chris Murphy of Connecticut at the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, July 25, 2018. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

“Listening to NPR talking about how the Democratic Party is ‘shifting’ on Israel. Such a tired, lazy take. Democrats believe in a two-state future. Always have. If we’re more critical of Israel, it’s bc their politics have moved, not ours,” he tweeted.

Indeed the vast majority of Democratic lawmakers back a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, but a growing handful have avoided backing the proposal, such as some of the members of the popular “Squad” of progressive Democrats.

Murphy is the chairman of the US Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on Near East, South Asia, Central Asia, and Counterterrorism.

Biden on Thursday hailed the ceasefire agreed between Israel and Hamas, saying that he saw it as a “genuine opportunity” to push forward toward building a lasting peace in the Middle East.

“I believe we have a genuine opportunity to make progress and I’m committed to working toward it,” Biden said. He credited the Egyptian government with playing a crucial role in brokering the ceasefire and said he and top White House aides were intensely involved in an “hour by hour” effort to stop the bloodletting.

“I believe the Palestinians and Israelis equally deserve to live safely and securely and enjoy equal measures of freedom, prosperity and democracy,” Biden said. “My administration will continue our quiet, relentless diplomacy toward that.”


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