Democrat-Republican Split on Israel Is the Widest in 40 Years, Poll Finds

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President Donald Trump and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem on May 23, 2017. Credit: U.S. Embassy Tel Aviv.
The gap between how Republicans and Democrats view Israel is widening, a Pew Research Center poll found.

The poll posted Tuesday showed 79 percent of Republicans sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians whereas 27 percent of Democrats sympathize with Israel over the Palestinians. Pew said this was the widest divide since 1978. The poll showed that 42 percent of Independents sympathize with Israel more than Palestinians.

Partisan divide in Middle East sympathies now wider than at any point in the past four decades

The drop among Democrats was especially sharp in recent years; in April 2016, 43 percent of Democrats said they were likelier to sympathize with Israel. The rise among Republicans has also been sharp since 2001: In that year, 50 percent of Republicans said they sympathize more with Israel.

This year’s poll showed 6 percent of Republicans sympathize with Palestinians more and 25 percent of Democrats sympathize with the Palestinians more. Overall, 46 percent of Americans sympathize more with Israel, about the same amount it has been since 1978.

Democrats about as likely to sympathize with Palestinians as with Israel

Differences were also sharp in how the respondents view Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. Among Republicans, 52 percent view the Israeli leader favorably and 15 percent view him unfavorably. Among Democrats, it was 18 percent favorable and 39 percent unfavorable. With Independents, it was 31 percent favorable and 28 percent unfavorable.

Netanyahu openly clashed with President Barack Obama, a Democrat, and has warmly welcomed the presidency of Donald Trump, a Republican.

The telephone poll reached 1,503 adults between Jan. 10 and 15. The margins of error were 2.9 percentage points overall, 5.7 points for Republicans, 5.1 points for Democrats and 5 points for Independents.

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