A poll released Friday indicated that fewer than half of Americans support US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, with an even smaller number supporting moving the US embassy to the city from Tel Aviv.
On whether they approve of recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, 44 percent of respondents told CNN they back Trump’s decision, while 45% said they disapprove. Only 36% said they support moving the US embassy in Israel from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, as Trump said he would.
Support for the move was sharply split along party lines. Among Republicans, 79% said they approve recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, while two-thirds favor moving the embassy to the city. On the other side of the aisle, 71% of Democrats opposed both decisions.
Friday’s CNN poll also asked whether the US should take sides in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with two-thirds of Americans saying it should not. For those who said the US should take sides, 24% said the US should back Israel, with only 2% saying it should side with the Palestinians.
Responses to that question also corresponded closely to party affiliation, with 48% of Republicans saying the US should side with Israel and only 2% saying it should take the side of the Palestinians. Among Democrats, those figures were 12% and 2%, respectively.
With this, 78% of Democrats and 70% of independents said the US should be neutral in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, as opposed to 44% of Republicans who said they the US should not pick sides.
Asked about the prospects for peace in the Middle East, 56% of poll respondents said they don’t believe a time will come when Israel and its Arab neighbors will resolve the Arab-Israeli conflict and live in peace, while 39% said it will.
The poll for CNN was conducted between December 14-17, prior to a pair of votes at the United Nations this week on the Jerusalem issue.
On Thursday, the UN General Assembly defied warnings from the US and overwhelmingly passed a resolution condemning the Trump administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital and calling on countries not to move their diplomatic missions to the city.
A total of 128 countries voted in favor of the text, defying Trump’s threat — forcefully reiterated in an address before the vote by US envoy Nikki Haley — to cut aid to countries that opposed the motion.
Nine countries — the US, Israel, Togo, Micronesia, Guatemala, Nauru, Palau, Marshall Islands and Honduras — voted against the resolution.
There were 35 abstentions, including a number of countries that had been widely expected to support the move, such as Colombia, Mexico, Malawi and Rwanda. A further 21 countries did not vote at all.
On Monday, in the Security Council, 14 out of 15 members had voted in favor of the resolution, which failed to pass due to an American veto. There are no vetoes at the General Assembly, but — as opposed to the Security Council — resolutions passed there are not legally binding.
Before Thursday’s vote, a series of officials addressed the “emergency special session” on “[i]llegal Israeli actions in Occupied East Jerusalem and the rest of the Occupied Palestinian Territory.” The session was called by Yemen and Turkey.
The US ambassador to the UN, Haley, defended the administration’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, said the US had the sovereign right to place its embassies where it wished, and warned that America — the biggest funder of the UN — did not take kindly to being disrespected and paying for the “dubious privilege.”
“The decision does not prejudge any final status issues, including Jerusalem’s boundaries. The decision does not preclude a two-state solution, if the parties agree to that,” she said. “The decision does nothing to harm peace efforts. Rather, the president’s decision reflects the will of the American people and our right as a nation to choose the location of our embassy.”
“America will put our embassy to Jerusalem,” Haley stressed. “That’s what the American people want us to do. And it’s the right thing to do.” No vote at the UN will make any difference on the American decision, she declared. But this vote will be remembered, she vowed, when America is being asked once again to make the single-largest contribution to the UN budget or when “so many countries come calling on us, as they so often do, to pay even more and to use our influence for their benefit.”
Israeli officials had rejected the vote’s outcome before it took place.
“The State of Israel flatly rejects this vote even before it is held,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said earlier on Thursday. “Jerusalem is our capital. We will continue to build in it and foreign embassies, led by the US embassy, will move to Jerusalem. It will happen.”
In the run-up to Thursday’s vote, Israeli diplomats stationed abroad made strenuous efforts to get as many countries as possible to oppose or abstain on the resolution.
On Wednesday, Trump had praised Haley for warning foreign diplomats that she will be “taking names” of countries that support the resolution criticizing America’s position on Jerusalem.
“I like the message that Nikki sent yesterday at the United Nations for all of these nations that take our money and then they vote against us at the Security Council, or they vote against us potentially at the assembly,” the president told members of his cabinet in the White House.
“They take hundreds of millions of dollars and even billions of dollars, and then they vote against us,” he said. “Well, we’re watching those votes. Let them vote against us, we’ll save a lot. We don’t care.”