Americans back Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu more than ever, a poll found Monday on the eve of his first visit there since the election of US President Donald Trump, though more than ever also oppose him.
The Gallup poll published Monday also found Americans nearly evenly divided over support for a Palestinian state.
Asked about their opinions of Netanyahu, some 49 percent of respondents said they viewed him favorably — the highest number recorded in the poll — with 30% viewing him unfavorably, 13% saying they never heard of him and 8% saying they have no opinion.
In 2015, before Netanyahu spoke against the Iran nuclear deal in Congress, a speech that was boycotted by several Democratic members of Congress, 45% viewed him favorably, up from 35% in 2013.
The 30% unfavorability rating was also the highest ever recorded, up from 24% in 2015 and 23% in 2013. In both those years, 31% of Democrats viewed him favorably and 31% unfavorably, and 60% of Republicans favorably and 18% unfavorably. In 2015, 31% said they had no opinion and in 2013 the number was 41%.
Netanyahu took off Monday for a four-day visit to Washington, where he will meet with Trump and other US officials. The trip follows eight years of acrimonious relations between the prime minister and president Barack Obama, during which Netanyahu tussled with the administration over Iran and the Palestinians.
Before leaving Israel, Netanyahu told reporters he sees “eye to eye with Trump” on regional issues.
According to the Gallup survey, 73% of Republicans viewed Netanyahu favorably and 11% unfavorably. Among Democrats, 32% viewed Netanyahu favorably and 41% unfavorably.
The results are from Gallup’s annual World Affairs poll conducted February 1-5. A random sample of 1,035 Americans over 18 was polled. The results have a margin of error of plus or minus 4 percent.
The poll also found that some 45 percent of Americans back the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and Gaza Strip and 42% oppose it, according to the poll taken during the first week of February. Some 13% said they have no opinion.
One year ago, support for a Palestinian state was at nearly the same level, 44%, but a lower percentage, 37%, opposed it. At that time, 19% said they had no opinion.
Support for a Palestinian state has remained mostly steady since it dipped from 51% support in 2012.
Broken down by political party affiliation, 61% of Democrats, 50% of Republicans and 25% of independents are in favor of a Palestinian state.
The poll also asked respondents if their “sympathies” lie more with the Israelis or the Palestinians.
Some 62% of Americans said they sympathized more with the Israelis and 19% with the Palestinians in numbers that are similar to the past several years. Another 19% responded with no preference, broken down into 5% who say they sympathize with both equally, 6% who sympathize with neither, and 8% who responded that they have no opinion.
In the splits by political party, 82% of Republicans, 47% of Democrats and 57% of Independents said they sympathized with Israel more.