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Majority in U.S. Now Disapprove of Israeli Action in Gaza

Majority in U.S. Now Disapprove of Israeli Action in Gaza

WASHINGTON, D.C. -- After narrowly backing Israel’s military action in Gaza in November, Americans now oppose the campaign by a solid margin. Fifty-five percent currently disapprove of Israel’s actions, while 36% approve.


The latest results are from a March 1-20 survey. The Israel-Hamas war has continued for five months and has resulted in the deaths of tens of thousands of Palestinians and over 1,000 Israelis. Major parts of Gaza have been destroyed, complicating efforts to deliver humanitarian aid to Palestinian civilians still living there. The United Nations and international community, including the Biden administration, have called for a cease-fire, but the two warring sides have been unable to agree.

The poll was completed before the U.N. Security Council on Monday passed a resolution calling for a cease-fire during Ramadan. The measure passed because the United States abstained rather than vetoing the resolution. The U.S. had previously vetoed other resolutions calling for a cease-fire.

Seventy-four percent of U.S. adults say they are following news of the Israeli-Hamas situation closely, similar to the 72% Gallup measured in November. One-third of Americans (34%) say they are following the situation “very closely.”

Disapproval of Israel’s military action is similar regardless of how much attention Americans are paying to the conflict. However, those paying less attention are more likely than their counterparts to have no opinion on the matter, resulting in lower approval than seen among people paying greater attention.


Republicans Retain Positive Stance; Independents Decidedly Negative

All three major party groups in the U.S. have become less supportive of Israel’s actions in Gaza than they were in November. This includes declines of 18 percentage points in approval among both Democrats and independents and a seven-point decline among Republicans.

Independents have shifted from being divided in their views of the Israeli military action to opposing it. Democrats, who were already largely opposed in November, are even more so now, with 18% approving and 75% disapproving.

Republicans still support Israel’s military efforts, but a reduced majority -- 64%, down from 71% -- now approve.


Democrats’ widespread opposition to Israel’s actions underscores the difficulty of the issue for President Joe Biden among his most loyal supporters. Some Democratic critics believe Biden has been too closely aligned with Israel by not taking stronger actions to promote a cease-fire and to assist Palestinian civilians caught in the war zone.

Biden’s approval rating for his handling of the situation in the Middle East, at 27%, is his lowest among five issues tested in the survey. This is because far fewer Democrats (47%) approve of how he is handling the situation between the Israelis and Palestinians than approve of his handling of the economy, the environment, energy policy and foreign affairs, broadly. On those issues, no less than 66% of Democrats approve of Biden.

Only further contributing to Biden’s low rating on the Middle East situation, just 21% of independents and 16% of Republicans approve of his performance on the issue.

Still, it appears that the Middle East conflict has not taken an obvious toll on Biden’s political standing. His overall job approval rating is 40%, compared with 37% in October and November surveys, perhaps being lifted by Americans’ greater confidence in the U.S. economy.

Bottom Line

As the Israel-Hamas war drags on, U.S. support for its ally’s actions in the war is slipping. This follows Gallup’s February poll finding that Americans hold less positive views of both Israel and the Palestinian Authority.

Like many issues, U.S. partisans find themselves on opposing sides. Most Republicans, though fewer than in the fall, support Israel's actions, while the vast majority of Democrats are opposed. Independents’ opinions are now much closer to those of Democrats.

Although Americans rate Biden's handling of the conflict poorly, his overall job approval rating is no lower now than before the conflict began. The issue does not register highly when Americans are asked to name the most important problem facing the U.S. Nor does it rank highly when Americans rate each of several international issues as critical threats to U.S. vital interests. It could hurt the president by dampening turnout among would-be Biden voters who care deeply about the issue and are upset with his handling of the situation.

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