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Americans Still Favor Israel While Warming to Palestinians

Americans Still Favor Israel While Warming to Palestinians

Story Highlights

  • Favorable views of Israel remain high at 75%
  • While majority sympathize with Israel, record-high 25% side with Palestinians
  • Majority of Democrats want to see U.S. pressure Israel more

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- Gallup's annual update of Americans' views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict shows Israel remains well-liked in the U.S. At the same time, Americans' favorable views of the Palestinian Authority are at a new high of 30%, as is the percentage sympathizing more with the Palestinians than the Israelis (25%).

Similarly, Americans continue to be more inclined to want the U.S. to pressure the Palestinians than the Israelis to resolve the Mideast conflict. But support for emphasizing pressure on Israel is also at a new high of 34%, with a majority of Democrats taking this position for the first time.

Recent Trend in U.S. Views on Israel and the Palestinians
2018 2019 2020 2021
% % % %
Favorable ratings
Israel 74 69 74 75
Palestinian Authority 21 21 23 30
Mideast sympathies
More with the Israelis 64 59 60 58
More with the Palestinians 19 21 23 25
Neither/Both/No opinion 16 20 17 17
U.S. pressure to make compromises
More on the Palestinians 50 -- -- 44
More on the Israelis 27 -- -- 34
Both/Neither/No opinion 23 -- -- 22
Palestinian statehood
Favor 47 50 55 52
Oppose 39 39 34 37
Polls conducted in February of each year

The latest results are from Gallup's annual World Affairs poll, conducted Feb. 3-18.

How far the Biden administration plans to go to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, or to pressure either side to make necessary concessions, isn't clear. So far, President Joe Biden and his foreign policy surrogates have signaled that the U.S. will remain a strong ally of Israel, while at the same time hoping to repair relations with the Palestinian Authority that soured under former President Donald Trump. Biden has also said that "a two-state solution remains the only path forward" for peace between Israel and the Palestinians.

Slim Majority Still Favors Palestinian Statehood

U.S. public support for an independent Palestinian state continues to register just above the majority level, with 52% holding this view today, similar to support during the prior two years. While the extent of that support has varied since 2000, the percentage in favor has consistently exceeded the percentage opposed.

Line graph. Americans' support for an independent Palestinian state. 52% of Americans currently favor establishing an independent state, 37% oppose it and 12% have no opinion.

Support Rises for U.S. Putting More Pressure on Israel

Americans offer mixed advice on whether the U.S. should apply more pressure to the Palestinians or the Israelis in order to resolve the Mideast conflict. After rising to 50% in 2018, the percentage wanting more pressure placed on the Palestinians has fallen to 44%, while the proportion wanting more pressure on Israel has increased from 27% to 34%.

This is the highest level of demand for pressuring Israel in Gallup's trend dating from 2007. Over the same period, the percentage in favor of the U.S. putting more pressure on both parties, or on neither, has declined from 21% to 14%.

Preferred U.S. Pressure to Resolve Palestinian-Israeli Conflict
In order to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, do you think the United States should -- [ROTATED: put more pressure on the Palestinians to make the necessary compromises (or) put more pressure on the Israelis to make the necessary compromises]?
2007 2008 2013 2018 2021
% % % % %
More pressure on the Palestinians 39 38 48 50 44
More pressure on the Israelis 30 25 25 27 34
More pressure on both (vol.) 11 15 10 6 7
More pressure on neither (vol.) 10 10 8 9 7
No opinion 10 11 10 8 8
Polls conducted in February of each year; (vol.) = volunteered response

Most of the increase since 2018 in wanting the U.S. to emphasize pressure on Israel comes from Democrats, the majority of whom now take this position. The 53% opting for more pressure on the Israelis is up from 43% in 2018 and no more than 38% in the decade before that, marking a substantive change in Democrats' perspective on U.S. policy.

This contrasts with 31% of independents and 17% of Republicans in favor of the U.S. placing more pressure on the Israelis. The majority of Republicans and about four in 10 independents still favor more pressure being applied to the Palestinians.

Line graph. Americans' preferences to put additional pressure on the Israelis to resolve the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. 53% of U.S. Democrats in 2021 favor additional pressure on the Israelis, compared with 31% of independents and 17% of Republicans.

U.S. Sympathies Still Lie With Israel

Meanwhile, there has been no change over the past year in Americans' general stance on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict, with the majority still sympathizing more with the Israelis (58%) than the Palestinians (25%).

However, because of incremental shifts over the past several years, the percentage favoring the Palestinians is at a high point in the trend since 2001. Sympathy for Israel remains about average, while the percentage volunteering that they sympathize with both sides equally or neither side (or that they have no opinion) has dwindled to 17%, from 33% in 2001.

Line graph. Americans' sympathies with two sides of the Israeli-Palestinian conflict. 58% of Americans in 2021 sympathize with the Israelis, while 25% sympathize with the Palestinians and 17% sympathize with neither or both sides, or are unsure.

Israel's Image Remains Highly Positive, While Palestinians' Has Improved

More generally, Americans' overall opinion of Israel has held at a highly positive level over the past year, while their views of the Palestinian Authority -- though still more negative than positive -- have improved. The 75% viewing Israel positively is unchanged from the 74% recorded a year ago and is above the 65% average since 2001. It is just shy of the all-time high 79% recorded during the 1991 Gulf War.

At the same time, the 30% now viewing the Palestinian Authority positively is up from 23% last year and compares with an average 19% since 2001. This marks a new high in Gallup's trend on Palestine since 2000.

Line graph. Americans' favorable ratings of Israel and the Palestinian Authority. 75% of Americans in 2021 have a favorable rating of Israel, while 30% view the Palestinian Authority favorably.

The increase in the Palestinian Authority's favorability rating is seen mostly among Republicans, with the percentage viewing it favorably rising from 9% to 19%. This compares with three- to four-percentage-point changes among independents (of whom 30% now view the Palestinian Authority favorably) and Democrats (38%) that are not statistically meaningful.

Israel has been viewed favorably by a majority of all party groups for the past two decades, although it consistently receives higher scores from Republicans. In the latest poll, 85% of Republicans view it favorably, compared with 77% of independents and 64% of Democrats.

Summary of Party Views

Republicans' and Democrats' divergent views toward Israel and the Palestinians are clear in the following summary table.

  • Republicans' support for Israel is consistent across all Gallup questions, with 80% sympathizing more with the Israelis than the Palestinians, a solid majority wanting the U.S. to put more pressure on the Palestinians in negotiations and fewer than half favoring Palestinian statehood.

  • Nearly two-thirds of Democrats view Israel favorably, but two-thirds also favor Palestinian statehood, less than half sympathize more with Israel in the dispute, and the majority want the U.S. to put more pressure on Israel.

2021 Views on Israel and the Palestinians, by Party ID
Republicans Independents Democrats
% % %
Favorable ratings
Israel 85 77 64
Palestinian Authority 19 30 38
Mideast sympathies
More with the Israelis 80 55 43
More with the Palestinians 10 25 38
Both/Neither (vol.) 10 20 19
U.S. pressure
More on Palestinians 65 44 29
More on Israelis 17 31 53
Palestinian statehood
Favor 38 49 67
Oppose 50 40 22
(vol.) = volunteered response
Gallup, Feb. 3-18, 2021

Bottom Line

Israel enjoys an enormous advantage over the Palestinian Authority in Americans' favorable ratings toward the two groups. Against that backdrop, Americans are also inclined to say they sympathize more with the Israelis than the Palestinians in the Mideast conflict. This aligns with decades of U.S. foreign policy that has stood by Israel at the United Nations and with foreign aid.

Americans are simultaneously supportive of an independent Palestinian state and lack consensus over how much pressure the U.S. should apply to each in the furtherance of reaching a peace agreement. But these views are increasingly partisan. Trump enjoyed nearly universal support from his Republican political base for putting pressure on the Palestinians to reach a peace deal, with few demanding he champion Palestinian statehood. Biden's Democratic base broadly favors statehood and now wants to see the U.S. put more pressure on the Israelis to make the necessary compromises to resolve the conflict.

Whether Democrats' current outlook is a temporary reaction to Trump's close association with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu or represents a fundamental shift in their orientation to Mideast politics that persists could have meaningful implications for Biden's foreign policy over the next four years. This could hinge, in part, on whether Netanyahu remains in power after Tuesday's Israeli elections.

View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).

Learn more about how the Gallup Poll Social Series works.

Research Note

Gallup asks Americans which side they sympathize with more in the Israeli-Palestinian conflict after asking for their overall opinions of Israel and Palestine in a list of close to 20 countries. A recent Gallup analysis found that this question order produces higher support for Israel on the sympathies question than when the sympathies question is asked in isolation. In the latter format, fewer Americans take Israel's side while more are neutral or express no opinion. Both approaches to the question provide valuable insights about Americans' views on the conflict and perhaps the intensity of their support for one side over the other.

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