International survey finds 60% don’t have confidence in Biden’s handling of Gaza war

Poll conducted in 34 countries finds that US president still engenders greater faith than rival Trump; 54% of Israelis trust Republican candidate

File - US President Joe Biden speaks during a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)
File - US President Joe Biden speaks during a Juneteenth concert on the South Lawn of the White House in Washington, June 10, 2024. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh)

Roughly 60% of people from 34 countries around the world hold a negative view of United States President Joe Biden’s handling of the war in Gaza, a Pew Research Center poll released Tuesday found.

In Israel, a similar number — some 53% of Jews and 86% of Arabs — also said they disapproved of how Biden was dealing with the conflict.

Some 60% of Israelis who placed themselves on the political right or center said they have confidence in Biden, as opposed to about half of Israelis who placed themselves on the left. Jews had more confidence in Biden than Arabs did, by 66% to 21%, and Arab Israeli opinion of the US was found to be at an all-time low.

Pew noted that it was unable to survey the Gaza Strip and the West Bank due to security concerns.

Overall, Biden’s handling of the war received the lowest approval rating of his five surveyed international policies, including his conduct toward China, the Russia-Ukraine war, global economic problems, and climate change. Of the 34 countries polled, only Kenya had a majority of respondents say they approved of how Biden is handling the Gaza war.

The war erupted after Hamas terrorists stormed into Israel on October 7, killing some 1,200 people, most of them civilians, and taking 251 hostages.

The poll was conducted before a May 31 speech in which the US president presented a deal to end the fighting and release hostages held by Hamas in Gaza. Israelis were surveyed before the president’s order in early May to withhold certain munitions from Israel over its planned offensive in Rafah, where more than 1 million displaced Gazans were sheltering.

Until then Biden had been largely supportive of Israel, even as he pushed for a deal that would see the hostages returned and a ceasefire agreement reached. The US has also pushed Israel to ensure that aid could freely enter Gaza.

Overall, the poll found a median of 43% of respondents in the surveyed countries say they trust Biden to do the right thing in world affairs, compared to 28% for his challenger in the upcoming November elections, former US President Donald Trump.

File – Republican presidential candidate, former President Donald Trump speaks at a campaign rally Sunday, June 9, 2024, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

People had a more positive assessment of Biden than Trump in 24 countries. Trump led in Hungary and Tunisia, and the two men were effectively tied in eight other countries — including Israel, where 54% expressed confidence in the former president, down from a 2019 high of 70%.

In 18 countries, people on the political right were more likely to express confidence in Trump. According to Pew, the gap was especially large in Israel, where some 75% of right-wingers said they have confidence in Trump, as opposed to just 23% of those on the left.

During Trump’s time in office, he took several steps to transform US policy on Israel, including moving the US embassy to Jerusalem and recognizing Israel’s annexation of the Golan Heights.

On the other hand, in several countries — including about half the surveyed European countries — people on the right were more likely to approve of Biden’s handling of the Gaza war.

The poll also found that faith in US democracy was dwindling.

While a median of 54% in the 34 countries polled have positive views of the US, a median of 4 in 10 across the surveyed nations told the pollsters that its democracy used to be a good example for other countries to follow but no longer is. A median of 21% said US democracy remains a good example for other nations, while an almost identical share, 22%, said it never has been.

Illustrative: Insurrectionists loyal to then-US President Donald Trump try to break through a police barrier, January 6, 2021, at the Capitol in Washington. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez, File)

In Israel, by contrast, 52% of respondents said US democracy is still a good example for other countries to follow, while 27% said it is no longer a good example, and 15% said it never was.

Besides Israel, only Ghana, Kenya, and Nigeria had a majority of respondents say US democracy was a good example for other countries to follow.

Since the spring of 2021, the only other time Pew asked the question, the share of those who believe US democracy is a good example has fallen in eight countries, mostly in Europe.

“People just don’t see the US political system as functioning very well,” said Richard Wike, director of global attitudes research for Pew. “People see the US as really divided along partisan lines.”

There is far less of a global divide between Trump and Biden. Confidence in the current president to do the right thing in world affairs has dropped since his first year in office but remains well above that of his rival, who had relatively low global ratings during his own presidency.

File – French President Emmanuel Macron, right, and US President Joe Biden toast during a state dinner, June 8, 2024 at the Elysee Palace, in Paris, France. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

A median of 39% in the surveyed countries said they approved of Biden’s handling of the war in Ukraine, with his highest ratings in European nations. And a median of about four in 10 were confident in his handling of China.

Of the five leaders rated in the survey, French President Emmanuel Macron registered the highest level of confidence, just ahead of Biden, while Russian President Vladimir Putin received the lowest.

While confidence in Biden has waned in countries ranging from South Africa to Israel to the United Kingdom, it remains steadily higher than that in Trump. The former president received his poorest assessments in Europe — where those expressing no confidence in him included more than eight in 10 adults in France, Germany and Sweden — and Latin America.

Africa, which Wike said tends to have positive views of US presidents, registered some of Trump’s best numbers. Even in the two countries where more confidence was expressed in Trump than Biden, they were down on the former president. In Tunisia, for example, only 17% expressed confidence in him.

File – Then-US President Donald Trump meets with Russian President Vladimir Putin at the G-20 Summit in Hamburg, Germany, July 7, 2017. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File)

Hungary is the other country where adults report higher confidence in Trump than Biden, but even there it’s far from a ringing endorsement. Trump has embraced Hungary and its autocratic prime minister, Viktor Orbán, but only 37% in Hungary say they’re confident in him, compared to 24% for Biden.

The median level of confidence in Trump’s ability to do the right thing in world affairs was only slightly higher across the 34 countries than it was for Chinese President Xi Jinping.

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