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Americans Closely Split Over Palestinian Statehood
Politics

Americans Closely Split Over Palestinian Statehood

Americans Closely Split Over Palestinian Statehood

Story Highlights

  • Forty-two percent in U.S. favor a Palestinian state, 38% oppose
  • Support at lowest point since 2000
  • Postgrads, liberals and Democrats show the highest support

PRINCETON, N.J. -- Forty-two percent of Americans favor the establishment of an independent Palestinian state comprising the West Bank and Gaza Strip. This is down slightly from 46% a year ago and among the lowest support levels Gallup has recorded since 2000. Nearly as many Americans, 38%, oppose Palestinian statehood, while 20% have no opinion on the issue.

Americans' Support for an Independent Palestinian State

Most demographic subgroups of Americans -- men, women, whites, nonwhites and various age groups -- are more likely to support than oppose the creation of an independent Palestinian state. However, older Americans buck this pattern, with 43% of those aged 55 and older opposed to it and 41% in favor.

Even greater differences are seen by educational background. Americans with higher levels of education are more likely than those further down the educational ladder to favor Palestinian statehood, and are less likely to say they have no opinion on the matter. Also, Americans with any college background are less likely to oppose statehood than those with no college experience.

Americans' Support for an Independent Palestinian State, Among Major Demographic Groups

Consistent with Republicans' broadly pro-Israel views, just 33% of Republicans favor creating a Palestinian state, versus 48% opposing it. By contrast, a majority of Democrats favor the proposal. Independents tilt in favor, matching the national average. The pattern is similar by political ideology, with a third of conservatives in favor versus a majority of liberals. Moderates' views fall in between.

Gallup previously reported that Americans are much more likely to say their sympathies in the Middle East conflict lie with the Israelis than with the Palestinians. Nevertheless, more than a third of those who sympathize mainly with Israel favor a Palestinian state. On the flip side, 16% of those who sympathize with the Palestinians oppose it. Among the residual 22% of Americans who express no partiality in the conflict, half take no position on the statehood question, while the remainder are more likely to favor than oppose it.

Americans' Support for an Independent Palestinian State, Among Major Political Groups

Notably, the overall decline in support for Palestinian statehood seen since it peaked in 2003 is primarily a function of declining support from Republicans, and to a lesser degree independents, while Democrats' support has generally held up. The drop in Republican support, however, has not been consistent, rising from its all-time low of 29% in 2013 to 41% last year before dropping again to 33% in the most current reading.

Americans' Support for an Independent Palestinian State, by Party ID

The peak support for Palestinian statehood seen in 2003 came as Republican President George W. Bush was prodding the Israelis and Palestinians to support the so-called road map to peace, focused on a two-state solution. Prior to that, in the last year of Democratic President Bill Clinton's administration, Republican support for statehood was as low as it is today, suggesting that for Republicans, at least, partisanship may play a key role in these attitudes.

Bottom Line

About four in 10 Americans endorse the creation of an independent Palestinian state, on the low end of what Gallup has found since 2000. Americans were much more supportive in 2003, when the players were actively involved in U.S.-led discussions to end the stalemate and Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon -- as well as Palestinian leadership -- seemed to favor the goal of statehood. Republicans' support has since plummeted, possibly in part because U.S. diplomacy is now led by a Democratic president. But independents' support is also down, and Democrats' has ebbed slightly.

Still, Americans show more support for an independent Palestinian state than might be expected given the relatively low percentages viewing the Palestinian Authority favorably (17%) and sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis (16%). This suggests Americans at least somewhat separate their views of Palestinian leadership from Palestinians' quest for self-determination. Also, some Americans who side more with Israel but favor statehood may do so believing it will diffuse violence in the region, benefiting everyone.

Survey Methods

Results for this Gallup poll are based on telephone interviews conducted Feb. 8-11, 2015, with a random sample of 837 adults, aged 18 and older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. For results based on the total sample of national adults, the margin of sampling error is ±4 percentage points at the 95% confidence level.

Each sample of national adults includes a minimum quota of 50% cellphone respondents and 50% landline respondents, with additional minimum quotas by time zone within region. Landline and cellular telephone numbers are selected using random-digit-dial methods.

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