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Democrats' Sympathies in Middle East Shift to Palestinians

Democrats' Sympathies in Middle East Shift to Palestinians

Story Highlights

  • Democrats sympathize more with Palestinians than Israelis for first time
  • Independents, Republicans still side more with Israelis in the conflict
  • Favorable views of Israel remain high across party groups

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After a decade in which Democrats have shown increasing affinity toward the Palestinians, their sympathies in the Middle East now lie more with the Palestinians than the Israelis, 49% versus 38%.

Today’s attitudes reflect an 11-percentage-point increase over the past year in Democrats’ sympathy with the Palestinians. At the same time, the percentages sympathizing more with the Israelis (38%) and those not favoring a side (13%) have dipped to new lows.


Sympathy toward the Palestinians is also at a new high among political independents, up six points to 32%. However, more independents still lean toward the Israelis (49%).


Republicans’ views are unchanged, with nearly eight in 10 (78%) continuing to sympathize more with the Israelis while 11% side with the Palestinians.


The latest findings are from Gallup’s Feb. 1-23 update of its annual World Affairs poll.

Mideast Sympathy Gap Narrows Nationally

As a result of this year’s partisan shifts, sympathy toward the Palestinians among U.S. adults is at a new high of 31%, while the proportion not favoring a side is at a new low of 15%. The 54% of Americans sympathizing more with the Israelis is similar to last year’s 55% but is the lowest since 2005.

The resulting 23-point gap in Americans’ sympathy for Israel versus the Palestinians represents Israel’s slimmest advantage on this question in Gallup’s World Affairs poll trend. It is also the first time Israel has not enjoyed a better than 2-to-1 advantage over the Palestinians in Americans’ sympathies.

The most consequential changes in public opinion on this question have occurred in the past five years, as support for the Palestinians has ticked up and support for Israel as well as ambivalence about the conflict have each declined.


Aside from partisan differences, Gallup continues to see generational distinctions in how U.S. adults view the Palestinian-Israeli conflict. Net sympathy toward Israel -- the percentage sympathizing more with the Israelis than the Palestinians -- is solidly positive among older generations, including baby boomers (+46 points), Generation X (+32) and the Silent Generation (+31). By contrast, millennials are now evenly divided, with 42% sympathizing more with the Palestinians and 40% with the Israelis, yielding a -2 net-Israel sympathy score.

There are too few adult members of Generation Z (aged 18 to 22) in the recent poll to report, but the limited available data suggest their views on this question are similar to millennials’.

Today’s divergence reflects a steep drop in recent years in net sympathy for Israel among millennials, whereas net sympathy for Israel has been steadier at a higher level among all three older generations.


Favorability Toward Israel Remains Strong

In addition to the sympathy question, which focuses on the Israeli and Palestinian people, Gallup asks Americans if their overall views of Israel and the Palestinian Authority, as countries, are favorable or unfavorable. This is part of a longer list of countries rated each year.

Consistent with prior years, Americans view Israel much more favorably than they do the Palestinian Authority, 68% versus 26%. Israel’s current favorable rating is below Gallup’s annual readings over the past decade, but matches the average since 2001. The Palestinian Authority’s current rating is on par with the slightly elevated level seen since 2021, and is higher than the average 19% recorded since 2001.


As is also typical, Israel is viewed favorably by a majority of all party groups -- 82% of Republicans, 67% of independents and 56% of Democrats. Conversely, relatively few in all three groups view the Palestinian Authority positively: 36% of Democrats, 28% of independents and 9% of Republicans.

What little increase has occurred in the Palestinian Authority’s favorable rating over the past decade has been exclusively among Democrats (up 16 percentage points since 2013) and independents (up 14 points).


Israel’s favorable ratings have been largely stable by party, although this year’s rating from Democrats is slightly below the 60% to 74% range seen over the past decade.


Bottom Line

Americans’ views on the Palestinian-Israeli conflict have become more polarized as Democrats increasingly commiserate with the Palestinians, while Republicans maintain their solid alignment with the Israelis. The escalation of Israeli-Palestinian hostilities over the past year, resulting in a high number of Palestinians killed, could partly explain the most recent shift in Democrats’ perspective. But Democrats’ waning religiosity may be a factor in the longer-term trend. Sympathy for Israel has historically been highly correlated with religion, with those attending religious services weekly being much more sympathetic to the Israelis than those who seldom or never attend.

Regardless of the reasons that Democrats’ (and, to a lesser extent, independents’) views have changed on the conflict, majorities of all generational and party groups still view Israel favorably and look more favorably on Israel than on the Palestinian Authority. This suggests that while rank-and-file Democrats may want Palestinians’ needs addressed, they will want solutions that respect Israel’s needs as well.

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View complete question responses and trends (PDF download).


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 2019 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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