Israelis overwhelmingly favor US President Donald Trump over his predecessor Barack Obama, according to a poll released on Wednesday, and are lukewarm in their support for the immigration of American Jews to the Jewish state.
The survey, conducted for Haaretz newspaper to coincide with US Independence Day, found that almost half of Israelis — 49 percent — strongly approved of Trump (and 23% slightly approved), while only 22% disapproved of the US president.
However, when asked about Obama, only 19% of respondents strongly approved of him (while 30% slightly approved), compared to a substantial 46% who disapproved of the former American leader.
Trump came to Israel last year in his first overseas trip as president and visited Jerusalem’s Western Wall, becoming the first American president to do so. In December, he recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and in May the US embassy in Israel was moved from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. In his views vis-à-vis the Palestinian Authority, Trump has been seen as more favorable to Israel than his predecessor.
His approval ratings in Israel eclipsed his support at home, where he only enjoys a 41.8% approval rating, according to 538’s poll aggregator.
According to the Haaretz poll, 44% of Israelis believed Trump’s peace plan would be pro-Israel, while only 7% thought it would be pro-Palestinian (31% thought it would be balanced).
The Haaretz poll also asked Israelis whether they want the majority of US Jews to move to Israel.
In total, 50% of Israeli respondents said they support mass Jewish immigration from the US, but among secular Israelis only 40% want American Jews to relocate (43% disagreed), whereas 88% of Orthodox Jewish Israelis wanted the US Jews to move.
The survey also found that a majority of Israelis (52%) believe American Jews had no right to publicly criticize Israel, while only 37% thought they should be able to voice their dissent with the Jewish state.
Asked whether Israel should give equal rights to Reform and Conservative Jews, a total of 47% of Israeli survey respondents said it should — of those who agreed, 71% were secular, while only 3% of the religious population agreed. Thirty percent — 11% of the secular public and 90% of religious Israelis — said Reform and Conservative Jews should not have the same rights.
Moreover, 44% of Israelis approve of the way Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu was handling Israel’s relations with US Jews, according to the Haaretz poll, while 26% disapprove.
Construction of an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which would allow for Reform and Conservative prayer sessions — the subject of negotiations with leaders of liberal Judaism since 2012 — has been mired in political difficulties since it was first approved by the government in 2016. On Tuesday the Knesset appointed Netanyahu to head the committee asked to implement the construction of the space.