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Majority in U.S. Again Support Palestinian Statehood

Majority in U.S. Again Support Palestinian Statehood

Story Highlights

  • At 55%, Americans' support for Palestinian statehood is highest since 2003
  • Support up among both party groups, but still much higher among Democrats
  • Public remains more favorable and sympathetic to Israelis than Palestinians

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to a February Gallup poll, 55% of Americans support the establishment of an independent Palestinian state, while 34% are opposed and 10% are unsure. This reading, conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic that has tested Palestinian and Israeli cooperation in various ways, represents the first time in eight years that the majority of Americans have favored Palestinian statehood.

Line graph, 1999-2020. Americans’ support for an independent Palestinian state, varying between 40% in 2000 and 58% in 2003.

Gallup's long-standing measure of Palestinian statehood frames the concept according to the traditional two-state solution of "an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip." Americans' support for this has been as high as 58% in 2003, recorded as then-President George W. Bush was attempting to negotiate a Mideast peace deal. The low is 40% in July 2000.

The higher percentage in favor of Palestinian statehood seen in the Feb. 3-16 World Affairs poll reflects increased support compared with a year ago from both Republicans and Democrats. The rise in Democrats' support is consistent with upticks seen among this party group since 2015. Republicans' views on the proposal have been more variable, but their higher backing for it today could stem from President Donald Trump's including it in the Middle East peace plan he announced in January.

Line graph, 1999-2020. Republicans’ and Democrats’ support for establishment of independent Palestinian state.

Support for statehood has also increased more among certain groups that had previously shown among the least support for a Palestinian state: older Americans, whites, adults with some college, conservatives and moderates.

Americans' Support for Independent Palestinian State
Do you favor or oppose the establishment of an independent Palestinian state on the West Bank and the Gaza Strip? % Favor
Feb 1-10, 2019 Feb 3-16, 2020 Change
% % pct. pts.
U.S. adults 50 55 +5
Men 53 57 +4
Women 47 54 +7
White 47 56 +9
Nonwhite 55 56 +1
18-34 53 57 +4
35-54 51 50 -1
55+ 47 61 +14
College graduate 62 67 +5
Some college 44 55 +11
No college 44 45 +1
Party ID
Republican 33 44 +11
Independent 54 57 +3
Democrats 62 70 +8
Conservative 36 42 +6
Moderate 53 63 +10
Liberal 70 68 -2

Americans' Sympathies in Israel-Palestinian Conflict Fairly Steady

By 60% to 23%, Americans continue to sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Middle East situation. While not a statistically significant change from last year's 21%, the 23% favoring the Palestinians today is the highest recorded in Gallup's World Affairs survey trends since 2001.

Line graph, 2001-2020. Percentages of Americans who sympathize more with the Israelis or with the Palestinians in Middle East.

Gallup's Mideast sympathies trend documents important changes in Americans' reactions toward the Palestinian-Israeli dispute; however, the precise percentage sympathizing more with Israel can vary, depending on survey context. Recent Gallup research found that the standard question order used on Gallup's annual World Affairs Survey, where this question follows the favorable ratings of countries, produces a higher percentage of Americans -- 11 percentage points higher in 2019 -- sympathizing with Israel than when the question is asked on surveys where it does not follow the favorability question.

Israel Maintains High Favorable Rating

Meanwhile, Israel's favorable rating in the same poll is near its historical high in Gallup trends. The 30% holding a very favorable view of the country is one point shy of the record 31% recorded in 2018, and the combined 74% very or mostly favorable views is exceeded only by the 79% recorded in January 1991, shortly after Iraqi Scud missiles struck Israel during the Gulf War.

Line graph. Trends in favorable ratings of Israel since 1989 and the Palestinian Authority since 2000.

Republicans' and Democrats' current attitudes toward Israel and the Palestinian Authority are typical of the pattern seen over the past two decades.

While the majority of Republicans and Democrats view Israel favorably, and both groups sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the conflict, there are differences in degree. Republicans express greater sympathy and favorability toward Israel than Democrats do. By the same token, both groups view the Palestinian Authority unfavorably, but Democrats less so than Republicans.

The two partisan groups hold substantively different views on the question of an independent Palestinian state. The majority of Democrats (70%) favor the establishment of such a state, while more Republicans oppose (48%) than support it (44%).

Summary of Americans' Views on Aspects of the Palestinian-Israeli Situation, by Party ID
Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Opinion of Israel
Favorable 91 64 67
Unfavorable 10 33 33
No opinion -- 3 *
Opinion of Palestinian Authority
Favorable 9 27 34
Unfavorable 87 70 64
No opinion 4 4 2
Sympathies in Mideast situation
Israelis 86 48 44
Palestinians 5 28 38
Both/Neither/Unsure 9 23 18
Position on Palestinian state
Favor 44 57 70
Oppose 48 32 22
No opinion 9 11 7
* Less than 0.5%
Gallup, Feb. 3-16, 2020

Bottom Line

Americans are the most supportive of Palestinian statehood they have been in a decade, in part because of enhanced Republican agreement, with Republicans likely following Trump's cues on the issue. Beyond that, the broad strokes of public attitudes toward the Palestinians and the Israelis haven't changed much in the past year. Far more Americans view Israel favorably than is true for the Palestinian Authority, and sympathies lie more with Israel than the Palestinians in the conflict.

Gallup's methodological research showing that sympathy for Israel can vary, depending on whether the question is asked after favorability ratings of Israel and Palestine, reveals that these views aren't hardened. In particular, it shows that a segment of the public is inclined not to take sides in the conflict, but will do so when more mindful of their broader opinions toward each country. That could have implications for both Israeli and Palestinian efforts at engaging Americans on the issue.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

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